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Title: Vingt mille lieues sous les mers. English - Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea
Author: Verne, Jules, 1828-1905
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA


by

JULES VERNE



PART ONE



CHAPTER I

A SHIFTING REEF

The year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and
puzzling phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten.  Not to
mention rumours which agitated the maritime population and excited the
public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were
particularly excited.  Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels,
skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries,
and the Governments of several States on the two continents, were
deeply interested in the matter.

For some time past vessels had been met by "an enormous thing," a long
object, spindle-shaped, occasionally phosphorescent, and infinitely
larger and more rapid in its movements than a whale.

The facts relating to this apparition (entered in various log-books)
agreed in most respects as to the shape of the object or creature in
question, the untiring rapidity of its movements, its surprising power
of locomotion, and the peculiar life with which it seemed endowed.  If
it was a whale, it surpassed in size all those hitherto classified in
science.  Taking into consideration the mean of observations made at
divers times--rejecting the timid estimate of those who assigned to
this object a length of two hundred feet, equally with the exaggerated
opinions which set it down as a mile in width and three in length--we
might fairly conclude that this mysterious being surpassed greatly all
dimensions admitted by the learned ones of the day, if it existed at
all.  And that it DID exist was an undeniable fact; and, with that
tendency which disposes the human mind in favour of the marvellous, we
can understand the excitement produced in the entire world by this
supernatural apparition.  As to classing it in the list of fables, the
idea was out of the question.

On the 20th of July, 1866, the steamer Governor Higginson, of the
Calcutta and Burnach Steam Navigation Company, had met this moving mass
five miles off the east coast of Australia.  Captain Baker thought at
first that he was in the presence of an unknown sandbank; he even
prepared to determine its exact position when two columns of water,
projected by the mysterious object, shot with a hissing noise a hundred
and fifty feet up into the air.  Now, unless the sandbank had been
submitted to the intermittent eruption of a geyser, the Governor
Higginson had to do neither more nor less than with an aquatic mammal,
unknown till then, which threw up from its blow-holes columns of water
mixed with air and vapour.

Similar facts were observed on the 23rd of July in the same year, in
the Pacific Ocean, by the Columbus, of the West India and Pacific Steam
Navigation Company.  But this extraordinary creature could transport
itself from one place to another with surprising velocity; as, in an
interval of three days, the Governor Higginson and the Columbus had
observed it at two different points of the chart, separated by a
distance of more than seven hundred nautical leagues.

Fifteen days later, two thousand miles farther off, the Helvetia, of
the Compagnie-Nationale, and the Shannon, of the Royal Mail Steamship
Company, sailing to windward in that portion of the Atlantic lying
between the United States and Europe, respectively signalled the
monster to each other in 42° 15' N. lat. and 60° 35' W. long.
In these simultaneous observations they thought themselves justified in
estimating the minimum length of the mammal at more than three hundred
and fifty feet, as the Shannon and Helvetia were of smaller dimensions
than it, though they measured three hundred feet over all.

Now the largest whales, those which frequent those parts of the sea
round the Aleutian, Kulammak, and Umgullich islands, have never
exceeded the length of sixty yards, if they attain that.

In every place of great resort the monster was the fashion.  They sang
of it in the cafes, ridiculed it in the papers, and represented it on
the stage.  All kinds of stories were circulated regarding it.  There
appeared in the papers caricatures of every gigantic and imaginary
creature, from the white whale, the terrible "Moby Dick" of sub-arctic
regions, to the immense kraken, whose tentacles could entangle a ship
of five hundred tons and hurry it into the abyss of the ocean.  The
legends of ancient times were even revived.

Then burst forth the unending argument between the believers and the
unbelievers in the societies of the wise and the scientific journals.
"The question of the monster" inflamed all minds.  Editors of
scientific journals, quarrelling with believers in the supernatural,
spilled seas of ink during this memorable campaign, some even drawing
blood; for from the sea-serpent they came to direct personalities.

During the first months of the year 1867 the question seemed buried,
never to revive, when new facts were brought before the public.  It was
then no longer a scientific problem to be solved, but a real danger
seriously to be avoided.  The question took quite another shape.  The
monster became a small island, a rock, a reef, but a reef of indefinite
and shifting proportions.

On the 5th of March, 1867, the Moravian, of the Montreal Ocean Company,
finding herself during the night in 27° 30' lat. and 72° 15'
long., struck on her starboard quarter a rock, marked in no chart for
that part of the sea.  Under the combined efforts of the wind and its
four hundred horse power, it was going at the rate of thirteen knots.
Had it not been for the superior strength of the hull of the Moravian,
she would have been broken by the shock and gone down with the 237
passengers she was bringing home from Canada.

The accident happened about five o'clock in the morning, as the day was
breaking.  The officers of the quarter-deck hurried to the after-part
of the vessel.  They examined the sea with the most careful attention.
They saw nothing but a strong eddy about three cables' length distant,
as if the surface had been violently agitated.  The bearings of the
place were taken exactly, and the Moravian continued its route without
apparent damage.  Had it struck on a submerged rock, or on an enormous
wreck?  They could not tell; but, on examination of the ship's bottom
when undergoing repairs, it was found that part of her keel was broken.

This fact, so grave in itself, might perhaps have been forgotten like
many others if, three weeks after, it had not been re-enacted under
similar circumstances.  But, thanks to the nationality of the victim of
the shock, thanks to the reputation of the company to which the vessel
belonged, the circumstance became extensively circulated.

The 13th of April, 1867, the sea being beautiful, the breeze
favourable, the Scotia, of the Cunard Company's line, found herself in
15° 12' long. and 45° 37' lat.  She was going at the speed of
thirteen knots and a half.

At seventeen minutes past four in the afternoon, whilst the passengers
were assembled at lunch in the great saloon, a slight shock was felt on
the hull of the Scotia, on her quarter, a little aft of the port-paddle.

The Scotia had not struck, but she had been struck, and seemingly by
something rather sharp and penetrating than blunt.  The shock had been
so slight that no one had been alarmed, had it not been for the shouts
of the carpenter's watch, who rushed on to the bridge, exclaiming, "We
are sinking! we are sinking!"  At first the passengers were much
frightened, but Captain Anderson hastened to reassure them.  The danger
could not be imminent.  The Scotia, divided into seven compartments by
strong partitions, could brave with impunity any leak.  Captain
Anderson went down immediately into the hold.  He found that the sea
was pouring into the fifth compartment; and the rapidity of the influx
proved that the force of the water was considerable.  Fortunately this
compartment did not hold the boilers, or the fires would have been
immediately extinguished.  Captain Anderson ordered the engines to be
stopped at once, and one of the men went down to ascertain the extent
of the injury.  Some minutes afterwards they discovered the existence
of a large hole, two yards in diameter, in the ship's bottom.  Such a
leak could not be stopped; and the Scotia, her paddles half submerged,
was obliged to continue her course.  She was then three hundred miles
from Cape Clear, and, after three days' delay, which caused great
uneasiness in Liverpool, she entered the basin of the company.

The engineers visited the Scotia, which was put in dry dock.  They
could scarcely believe it possible; at two yards and a half below
water-mark was a regular rent, in the form of an isosceles triangle.
The broken place in the iron plates was so perfectly defined that it
could not have been more neatly done by a punch.  It was clear, then,
that the instrument producing the perforation was not of a common stamp
and, after having been driven with prodigious strength, and piercing an
iron plate 1 3/8 inches thick, had withdrawn itself by a backward
motion.

Such was the last fact, which resulted in exciting once more the
torrent of public opinion.  From this moment all unlucky casualties
which could not be otherwise accounted for were put down to the monster.

Upon this imaginary creature rested the responsibility of all these
shipwrecks, which unfortunately were considerable; for of three
thousand ships whose loss was annually recorded at Lloyd's, the number
of sailing and steam-ships supposed to be totally lost, from the
absence of all news, amounted to not less than two hundred!

Now, it was the "monster" who, justly or unjustly, was accused of their
disappearance, and, thanks to it, communication between the different
continents became more and more dangerous.  The public demanded sharply
that the seas should at any price be relieved from this formidable
cetacean.[1]


[1] Member of the whale family.



CHAPTER II

PRO AND CON

At the period when these events took place, I had just returned from a
scientific research in the disagreeable territory of Nebraska, in the
United States.  In virtue of my office as Assistant Professor in the
Museum of Natural History in Paris, the French Government had attached
me to that expedition.  After six months in Nebraska, I arrived in New
York towards the end of March, laden with a precious collection.  My
departure for France was fixed for the first days in May.  Meanwhile I
was occupying myself in classifying my mineralogical, botanical, and
zoological riches, when the accident happened to the Scotia.

I was perfectly up in the subject which was the question of the day.
How could I be otherwise?  I had read and reread all the American and
European papers without being any nearer a conclusion.  This mystery
puzzled me.  Under the impossibility of forming an opinion, I jumped
from one extreme to the other.  That there really was something could
not be doubted, and the incredulous were invited to put their finger on
the wound of the Scotia.

On my arrival at New York the question was at its height.  The theory
of the floating island, and the unapproachable sandbank, supported by
minds little competent to form a judgment, was abandoned.  And, indeed,
unless this shoal had a machine in its stomach, how could it change its
position with such astonishing rapidity?

From the same cause, the idea of a floating hull of an enormous wreck
was given up.

There remained, then, only two possible solutions of the question,
which created two distinct parties:  on one side, those who were for a
monster of colossal strength; on the other, those who were for a
submarine vessel of enormous motive power.

But this last theory, plausible as it was, could not stand against
inquiries made in both worlds.  That a private gentleman should have
such a machine at his command was not likely.  Where, when, and how was
it built? and how could its construction have been kept secret?
Certainly a Government might possess such a destructive machine.  And
in these disastrous times, when the ingenuity of man has multiplied the
power of weapons of war, it was possible that, without the knowledge of
others, a State might try to work such a formidable engine.

But the idea of a war machine fell before the declaration of
Governments.  As public interest was in question, and transatlantic
communications suffered, their veracity could not be doubted.  But how
admit that the construction of this submarine boat had escaped the
public eye?  For a private gentleman to keep the secret under such
circumstances would be very difficult, and for a State whose every act
is persistently watched by powerful rivals, certainly impossible.

Upon my arrival in New York several persons did me the honour of
consulting me on the phenomenon in question.  I had published in France
a work in quarto, in two volumes, entitled Mysteries of the Great
Submarine Grounds.  This book, highly approved of in the learned world,
gained for me a special reputation in this rather obscure branch of
Natural History.  My advice was asked.  As long as I could deny the
reality of the fact, I confined myself to a decided negative.  But
soon, finding myself driven into a corner, I was obliged to explain
myself point by point.  I discussed the question in all its forms,
politically and scientifically; and I give here an extract from a
carefully-studied article which I published in the number of the 30th
of April.  It ran as follows:

"After examining one by one the different theories, rejecting all other
suggestions, it becomes necessary to admit the existence of a marine
animal of enormous power.

"The great depths of the ocean are entirely unknown to us.  Soundings
cannot reach them.  What passes in those remote depths--what beings
live, or can live, twelve or fifteen miles beneath the surface of the
waters--what is the organisation of these animals, we can scarcely
conjecture.  However, the solution of the problem submitted to me may
modify the form of the dilemma.  Either we do know all the varieties of
beings which people our planet, or we do not.  If we do NOT know them
all--if Nature has still secrets in the deeps for us, nothing is more
conformable to reason than to admit the existence of fishes, or
cetaceans of other kinds, or even of new species, of an organisation
formed to inhabit the strata inaccessible to soundings, and which an
accident of some sort has brought at long intervals to the upper level
of the ocean.

"If, on the contrary, we DO know all living kinds, we must necessarily
seek for the animal in question amongst those marine beings already
classed; and, in that case, I should be disposed to admit the existence
of a gigantic narwhal.

"The common narwhal, or unicorn of the sea, often attains a length of
sixty feet.  Increase its size fivefold or tenfold, give it strength
proportionate to its size, lengthen its destructive weapons, and you
obtain the animal required.  It will have the proportions determined by
the officers of the Shannon, the instrument required by the perforation
of the Scotia, and the power necessary to pierce the hull of the
steamer.

"Indeed, the narwhal is armed with a sort of ivory sword, a halberd,
according to the expression of certain naturalists.  The principal tusk
has the hardness of steel.  Some of these tusks have been found buried
in the bodies of whales, which the unicorn always attacks with success.
Others have been drawn out, not without trouble, from the bottoms of
ships, which they had pierced through and through, as a gimlet pierces
a barrel.  The Museum of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris possesses one
of these defensive weapons, two yards and a quarter in length, and
fifteen inches in diameter at the base.

"Very well! suppose this weapon to be six times stronger and the animal
ten times more powerful; launch it at the rate of twenty miles an hour,
and you obtain a shock capable of producing the catastrophe required.
Until further information, therefore, I shall maintain it to be a
sea-unicorn of colossal dimensions, armed not with a halberd, but with
a real spur, as the armoured frigates, or the `rams' of war, whose
massiveness and motive power it would possess at the same time.  Thus
may this puzzling phenomenon be explained, unless there be something
over and above all that one has ever conjectured, seen, perceived, or
experienced; which is just within the bounds of possibility."

These last words were cowardly on my part; but, up to a certain point,
I wished to shelter my dignity as professor, and not give too much
cause for laughter to the Americans, who laugh well when they do laugh.
I reserved for myself a way of escape.  In effect, however, I admitted
the existence of the "monster." My article was warmly discussed, which
procured it a high reputation.  It rallied round it a certain number of
partisans.  The solution it proposed gave, at least, full liberty to
the imagination.  The human mind delights in grand conceptions of
supernatural beings.  And the sea is precisely their best vehicle, the
only medium through which these giants (against which terrestrial
animals, such as elephants or rhinoceroses, are as nothing) can be
produced or developed.

The industrial and commercial papers treated the question chiefly from
this point of view.  The Shipping and Mercantile Gazette, the Lloyd's
List, the Packet-Boat, and the Maritime and Colonial Review, all papers
devoted to insurance companies which threatened to raise their rates of
premium, were unanimous on this point.  Public opinion had been
pronounced.  The United States were the first in the field; and in New
York they made preparations for an expedition destined to pursue this
narwhal.  A frigate of great speed, the Abraham Lincoln, was put in
commission as soon as possible.  The arsenals were opened to Commander
Farragut, who hastened the arming of his frigate; but, as it always
happens, the moment it was decided to pursue the monster, the monster
did not appear.  For two months no one heard it spoken of.  No ship met
with it.  It seemed as if this unicorn knew of the plots weaving around
it.  It had been so much talked of, even through the Atlantic cable,
that jesters pretended that this slender fly had stopped a telegram on
its passage and was making the most of it.

So when the frigate had been armed for a long campaign, and provided
with formidable fishing apparatus, no one could tell what course to
pursue.  Impatience grew apace, when, on the 2nd of July, they learned
that a steamer of the line of San Francisco, from California to
Shanghai, had seen the animal three weeks before in the North Pacific
Ocean.  The excitement caused by this news was extreme.  The ship was
revictualled and well stocked with coal.

Three hours before the Abraham Lincoln left Brooklyn pier, I received a
letter worded as follows:

To M. ARONNAX, Professor in the Museum of Paris, Fifth Avenue Hotel,
New York.

SIR,--If you will consent to join the Abraham Lincoln in this
expedition, the Government of the United States will with pleasure see
France represented in the enterprise.  Commander Farragut has a cabin
at your disposal.

Very cordially yours, J.B. HOBSON, Secretary of Marine.



CHAPTER III

I FORM MY RESOLUTION

Three seconds before the arrival of J. B. Hobson's letter I no more
thought of pursuing the unicorn than of attempting the passage of the
North Sea.  Three seconds after reading the letter of the honourable
Secretary of Marine, I felt that my true vocation, the sole end of my
life, was to chase this disturbing monster and purge it from the world.

But I had just returned from a fatiguing journey, weary and longing for
repose.  I aspired to nothing more than again seeing my country, my
friends, my little lodging by the Jardin des Plantes, my dear and
precious collections--but nothing could keep me back!  I forgot
all--fatigue, friends and collections--and accepted without hesitation
the offer of the American Government.

"Besides," thought I, "all roads lead back to Europe; and the unicorn
may be amiable enough to hurry me towards the coast of France.  This
worthy animal may allow itself to be caught in the seas of Europe (for
my particular benefit), and I will not bring back less than half a yard
of his ivory halberd to the Museum of Natural History." But in the
meanwhile I must seek this narwhal in the North Pacific Ocean, which,
to return to France, was taking the road to the antipodes.

"Conseil," I called in an impatient voice.

Conseil was my servant, a true, devoted Flemish boy, who had
accompanied me in all my travels.  I liked him, and he returned the
liking well.  He was quiet by nature, regular from principle, zealous
from habit, evincing little disturbance at the different surprises of
life, very quick with his hands, and apt at any service required of
him; and, despite his name, never giving advice--even when asked for it.

Conseil had followed me for the last ten years wherever science led.
Never once did he complain of the length or fatigue of a journey, never
make an objection to pack his portmanteau for whatever country it might
be, or however far away, whether China or Congo.  Besides all this, he
had good health, which defied all sickness, and solid muscles, but no
nerves; good morals are understood.  This boy was thirty years old, and
his age to that of his master as fifteen to twenty.  May I be excused
for saying that I was forty years old?

But Conseil had one fault:  he was ceremonious to a degree, and would
never speak to me but in the third person, which was sometimes
provoking.

"Conseil," said I again, beginning with feverish hands to make
preparations for my departure.

Certainly I was sure of this devoted boy.  As a rule, I never asked him
if it were convenient for him or not to follow me in my travels; but
this time the expedition in question might be prolonged, and the
enterprise might be hazardous in pursuit of an animal capable of
sinking a frigate as easily as a nutshell.  Here there was matter for
reflection even to the most impassive man in the world.  What would
Conseil say?

"Conseil," I called a third time.

Conseil appeared.

"Did you call, sir?" said he, entering.

"Yes, my boy; make preparations for me and yourself too.  We leave in
two hours."

"As you please, sir," replied Conseil, quietly.

"Not an instant to lose; lock in my trunk all travelling utensils,
coats, shirts, and stockings--without counting, as many as you can, and
make haste."

"And your collections, sir?" observed Conseil.

"They will keep them at the hotel."

"We are not returning to Paris, then?" said Conseil.

"Oh! certainly," I answered, evasively, "by making a curve."

"Will the curve please you, sir?"

"Oh! it will be nothing; not quite so direct a road, that is all.  We
take our passage in the Abraham, Lincoln."

"As you think proper, sir," coolly replied Conseil.

"You see, my friend, it has to do with the monster--the famous narwhal.
We are going to purge it from the seas.  A glorious mission, but a
dangerous one!  We cannot tell where we may go; these animals can be
very capricious.  But we will go whether or no; we have got a captain
who is pretty wide-awake."

Our luggage was transported to the deck of the frigate immediately.  I
hastened on board and asked for Commander Farragut.  One of the sailors
conducted me to the poop, where I found myself in the presence of a
good-looking officer, who held out his hand to me.

"Monsieur Pierre Aronnax?" said he.

"Himself," replied I. "Commander Farragut?"

"You are welcome, Professor; your cabin is ready for you."

I bowed, and desired to be conducted to the cabin destined for me.

The Abraham Lincoln had been well chosen and equipped for her new
destination.  She was a frigate of great speed, fitted with
high-pressure engines which admitted a pressure of seven atmospheres.
Under this the Abraham Lincoln attained the mean speed of nearly
eighteen knots and a third an hour--a considerable speed, but,
nevertheless, insufficient to grapple with this gigantic cetacean.

The interior arrangements of the frigate corresponded to its nautical
qualities.  I was well satisfied with my cabin, which was in the after
part, opening upon the gunroom.

"We shall be well off here," said I to Conseil.

"As well, by your honour's leave, as a hermit-crab in the shell of a
whelk," said Conseil.

I left Conseil to stow our trunks conveniently away, and remounted the
poop in order to survey the preparations for departure.

At that moment Commander Farragut was ordering the last moorings to be
cast loose which held the Abraham Lincoln to the pier of Brooklyn.  So
in a quarter of an hour, perhaps less, the frigate would have sailed
without me.  I should have missed this extraordinary, supernatural, and
incredible expedition, the recital of which may well meet with some
suspicion.

But Commander Farragut would not lose a day nor an hour in scouring the
seas in which the animal had been sighted.  He sent for the engineer.

"Is the steam full on?" asked he.

"Yes, sir," replied the engineer.

"Go ahead," cried Commander Farragut.



CHAPTER IV

NED LAND

Captain Farragut was a good seaman, worthy of the frigate he commanded.
His vessel and he were one.  He was the soul of it.  On the question of
the monster there was no doubt in his mind, and he would not allow the
existence of the animal to be disputed on board.  He believed in it, as
certain good women believe in the leviathan--by faith, not by reason.
The monster did exist, and he had sworn to rid the seas of it.  Either
Captain Farragut would kill the narwhal, or the narwhal would kill the
captain.  There was no third course.

The officers on board shared the opinion of their chief.  They were
ever chatting, discussing, and calculating the various chances of a
meeting, watching narrowly the vast surface of the ocean.  More than
one took up his quarters voluntarily in the cross-trees, who would have
cursed such a berth under any other circumstances.  As long as the sun
described its daily course, the rigging was crowded with sailors, whose
feet were burnt to such an extent by the heat of the deck as to render
it unbearable; still the Abraham Lincoln had not yet breasted the
suspected waters of the Pacific.  As to the ship's company, they
desired nothing better than to meet the unicorn, to harpoon it, hoist
it on board, and despatch it.  They watched the sea with eager
attention.

Besides, Captain Farragut had spoken of a certain sum of two thousand
dollars, set apart for whoever should first sight the monster, were he
cabin-boy, common seaman, or officer.

I leave you to judge how eyes were used on board the Abraham Lincoln.

For my own part I was not behind the others, and, left to no one my
share of daily observations.  The frigate might have been called the
Argus, for a hundred reasons.  Only one amongst us, Conseil, seemed to
protest by his indifference against the question which so interested us
all, and seemed to be out of keeping with the general enthusiasm on
board.

I have said that Captain Farragut had carefully provided his ship with
every apparatus for catching the gigantic cetacean.  No whaler had ever
been better armed.  We possessed every known engine, from the harpoon
thrown by the hand to the barbed arrows of the blunderbuss, and the
explosive balls of the duck-gun.  On the forecastle lay the perfection
of a breech-loading gun, very thick at the breech, and very narrow in
the bore, the model of which had been in the Exhibition of 1867.  This
precious weapon of American origin could throw with ease a conical
projectile of nine pounds to a mean distance of ten miles.

Thus the Abraham Lincoln wanted for no means of destruction; and, what
was better still she had on board Ned Land, the prince of harpooners.

Ned Land was a Canadian, with an uncommon quickness of hand, and who
knew no equal in his dangerous occupation.  Skill, coolness, audacity,
and cunning he possessed in a superior degree, and it must be a cunning
whale to escape the stroke of his harpoon.

Ned Land was about forty years of age; he was a tall man (more than six
feet high), strongly built, grave and taciturn, occasionally violent,
and very passionate when contradicted.  His person attracted attention,
but above all the boldness of his look, which gave a singular
expression to his face.

Who calls himself Canadian calls himself French; and, little
communicative as Ned Land was, I must admit that he took a certain
liking for me.  My nationality drew him to me, no doubt.  It was an
opportunity for him to talk, and for me to hear, that old language of
Rabelais, which is still in use in some Canadian provinces.  The
harpooner's family was originally from Quebec, and was already a tribe
of hardy fishermen when this town belonged to France.

Little by little, Ned Land acquired a taste for chatting, and I loved
to hear the recital of his adventures in the polar seas.  He related
his fishing, and his combats, with natural poetry of expression; his
recital took the form of an epic poem, and I seemed to be listening to
a Canadian Homer singing the Iliad of the regions of the North.

I am portraying this hardy companion as I really knew him.  We are old
friends now, united in that unchangeable friendship which is born and
cemented amidst extreme dangers.  Ah, brave Ned!  I ask no more than to
live a hundred years longer, that I may have more time to dwell the
longer on your memory.

Now, what was Ned Land's opinion upon the question of the marine
monster?  I must admit that he did not believe in the unicorn, and was
the only one on board who did not share that universal conviction.  He
even avoided the subject, which I one day thought it my duty to press
upon him.  One magnificent evening, the 30th July (that is to say,
three weeks after our departure), the frigate was abreast of Cape
Blanc, thirty miles to leeward of the coast of Patagonia.  We had
crossed the tropic of Capricorn, and the Straits of Magellan opened
less than seven hundred miles to the south.  Before eight days were
over the Abraham Lincoln would be ploughing the waters of the Pacific.

Seated on the poop, Ned Land and I were chatting of one thing and
another as we looked at this mysterious sea, whose great depths had up
to this time been inaccessible to the eye of man.  I naturally led up
the conversation to the giant unicorn, and examined the various chances
of success or failure of the expedition.  But, seeing that Ned Land let
me speak without saying too much himself, I pressed him more closely.

"Well, Ned," said I, "is it possible that you are not convinced of the
existence of this cetacean that we are following?  Have you any
particular reason for being so incredulous?"

The harpooner looked at me fixedly for some moments before answering,
struck his broad forehead with his hand (a habit of his), as if to
collect himself, and said at last, "Perhaps I have, Mr. Aronnax."

"But, Ned, you, a whaler by profession, familiarised with all the great
marine mammalia--YOU ought to be the last to doubt under such
circumstances!"

"That is just what deceives you, Professor," replied Ned.  "As a whaler
I have followed many a cetacean, harpooned a great number, and killed
several; but, however strong or well-armed they may have been, neither
their tails nor their weapons would have been able even to scratch the
iron plates of a steamer."

"But, Ned, they tell of ships which the teeth of the narwhal have
pierced through and through."

"Wooden ships--that is possible," replied the Canadian, "but I have
never seen it done; and, until further proof, I deny that whales,
cetaceans, or sea-unicorns could ever produce the effect you describe."

"Well, Ned, I repeat it with a conviction resting on the logic of
facts.  I believe in the existence of a mammal power fully organised,
belonging to the branch of vertebrata, like the whales, the cachalots,
or the dolphins, and furnished with a horn of defence of great
penetrating power."

"Hum!" said the harpooner, shaking his head with the air of a man who
would not be convinced.

"Notice one thing, my worthy Canadian," I resumed.  "If such an animal
is in existence, if it inhabits the depths of the ocean, if it
frequents the strata lying miles below the surface of the water, it
must necessarily possess an organisation the strength of which would
defy all comparison."

"And why this powerful organisation?" demanded Ned.

"Because it requires incalculable strength to keep one's self in these
strata and resist their pressure.  Listen to me.  Let us admit that the
pressure of the atmosphere is represented by the weight of a column of
water thirty-two feet high.  In reality the column of water would be
shorter, as we are speaking of sea water, the density of which is
greater than that of fresh water.  Very well, when you dive, Ned, as
many times 32 feet of water as there are above you, so many times does
your body bear a pressure equal to that of the atmosphere, that is to
say, 15 lb. for each square inch of its surface.  It follows, then,
that at 320 feet this pressure equals that of 10 atmospheres, of 100
atmospheres at 3,200 feet, and of 1,000 atmospheres at 32,000 feet,
that is, about 6 miles; which is equivalent to saying that if you could
attain this depth in the ocean, each square three-eighths of an inch of
the surface of your body would bear a pressure of 5,600 lb.  Ah! my
brave Ned, do you know how many square inches you carry on the surface
of your body?"

"I have no idea, Mr. Aronnax."

"About 6,500; and as in reality the atmospheric pressure is about 15
lb.  to the square inch, your 6,500 square inches bear at this moment a
pressure of 97,500 lb."

"Without my perceiving it?"

"Without your perceiving it.  And if you are not crushed by such a
pressure, it is because the air penetrates the interior of your body
with equal pressure.  Hence perfect equilibrium between the interior
and exterior pressure, which thus neutralise each other, and which
allows you to bear it without inconvenience.  But in the water it is
another thing."

"Yes, I understand," replied Ned, becoming more attentive; "because the
water surrounds me, but does not penetrate."

"Precisely, Ned:  so that at 32 feet beneath the surface of the sea you
would undergo a pressure of 97,500 lb.; at 320 feet, ten times that
pressure; at 3,200 feet, a hundred times that pressure; lastly, at
32,000 feet, a thousand times that pressure would be 97,500,000
lb.--that is to say, that you would be flattened as if you had been
drawn from the plates of a hydraulic machine!"

"The devil!" exclaimed Ned.

"Very well, my worthy harpooner, if some vertebrate, several hundred
yards long, and large in proportion, can maintain itself in such
depths--of those whose surface is represented by millions of square
inches, that is by tens of millions of pounds, we must estimate the
pressure they undergo.  Consider, then, what must be the resistance of
their bony structure, and the strength of their organisation to
withstand such pressure!"

"Why!" exclaimed Ned Land, "they must be made of iron plates eight
inches thick, like the armoured frigates."

"As you say, Ned.  And think what destruction such a mass would cause,
if hurled with the speed of an express train against the hull of a
vessel."

"Yes--certainly--perhaps," replied the Canadian, shaken by these
figures, but not yet willing to give in.

"Well, have I convinced you?"

"You have convinced me of one thing, sir, which is that, if such
animals do exist at the bottom of the seas, they must necessarily be as
strong as you say."

"But if they do not exist, mine obstinate harpooner, how explain the
accident to the Scotia?"



CHAPTER V

AT A VENTURE

The voyage of the Abraham Lincoln was for a long time marked by no
special incident.  But one circumstance happened which showed the
wonderful dexterity of Ned Land, and proved what confidence we might
place in him.

The 30th of June, the frigate spoke some American whalers, from whom we
learned that they knew nothing about the narwhal.  But one of them, the
captain of the Monroe, knowing that Ned Land had shipped on board the
Abraham Lincoln, begged for his help in chasing a whale they had in
sight.  Commander Farragut, desirous of seeing Ned Land at work, gave
him permission to go on board the Monroe.  And fate served our Canadian
so well that, instead of one whale, he harpooned two with a double
blow, striking one straight to the heart, and catching the other after
some minutes' pursuit.

Decidedly, if the monster ever had to do with Ned Land's harpoon, I
would not bet in its favour.

The frigate skirted the south-east coast of America with great
rapidity.  The 3rd of July we were at the opening of the Straits of
Magellan, level with Cape Vierges.  But Commander Farragut would not
take a tortuous passage, but doubled Cape Horn.

The ship's crew agreed with him.  And certainly it was possible that
they might meet the narwhal in this narrow pass.  Many of the sailors
affirmed that the monster could not pass there, "that he was too big
for that!"

The 6th of July, about three o'clock in the afternoon, the Abraham
Lincoln, at fifteen miles to the south, doubled the solitary island,
this lost rock at the extremity of the American continent, to which
some Dutch sailors gave the name of their native town, Cape Horn.  The
course was taken towards the north-west, and the next day the screw of
the frigate was at last beating the waters of the Pacific.

"Keep your eyes open!" called out the sailors.

And they were opened widely.  Both eyes and glasses, a little dazzled,
it is true, by the prospect of two thousand dollars, had not an
instant's repose.

I myself, for whom money had no charms, was not the least attentive on
board.  Giving but few minutes to my meals, but a few hours to sleep,
indifferent to either rain or sunshine, I did not leave the poop of the
vessel.  Now leaning on the netting of the forecastle, now on the
taffrail, I devoured with eagerness the soft foam which whitened the
sea as far as the eye could reach; and how often have I shared the
emotion of the majority of the crew, when some capricious whale raised
its black back above the waves!  The poop of the vessel was crowded on
a moment.  The cabins poured forth a torrent of sailors and officers,
each with heaving breast and troubled eye watching the course of the
cetacean.  I looked and looked till I was nearly blind, whilst Conseil
kept repeating in a calm voice:

"If, sir, you would not squint so much, you would see better!"

But vain excitement!  The Abraham Lincoln checked its speed and made
for the animal signalled, a simple whale, or common cachalot, which
soon disappeared amidst a storm of abuse.

But the weather was good.  The voyage was being accomplished under the
most favourable auspices.  It was then the bad season in Australia, the
July of that zone corresponding to our January in Europe, but the sea
was beautiful and easily scanned round a vast circumference.

The 20th of July, the tropic of Capricorn was cut by 105d of longitude,
and the 27th of the same month we crossed the Equator on the 110th
meridian.  This passed, the frigate took a more decided westerly
direction, and scoured the central waters of the Pacific.  Commander
Farragut thought, and with reason, that it was better to remain in deep
water, and keep clear of continents or islands, which the beast itself
seemed to shun (perhaps because there was not enough water for him!
suggested the greater part of the crew). The frigate passed at some
distance from the Marquesas and the Sandwich Islands, crossed the
tropic of Cancer, and made for the China Seas.  We were on the theatre
of the last diversions of the monster:  and, to say truth, we no longer
LIVED on board.  The entire ship's crew were undergoing a nervous
excitement, of which I can give no idea:  they could not eat, they
could not sleep--twenty times a day, a misconception or an optical
illusion of some sailor seated on the taffrail, would cause dreadful
perspirations, and these emotions, twenty times repeated, kept us in a
state of excitement so violent that a reaction was unavoidable.

And truly, reaction soon showed itself.  For three months, during which
a day seemed an age, the Abraham Lincoln furrowed all the waters of the
Northern Pacific, running at whales, making sharp deviations from her
course, veering suddenly from one tack to another, stopping suddenly,
putting on steam, and backing ever and anon at the risk of deranging
her machinery, and not one point of the Japanese or American coast was
left unexplored.

The warmest partisans of the enterprise now became its most ardent
detractors.  Reaction mounted from the crew to the captain himself, and
certainly, had it not been for the resolute determination on the part
of Captain Farragut, the frigate would have headed due southward.  This
useless search could not last much longer.  The Abraham Lincoln had
nothing to reproach herself with, she had done her best to succeed.
Never had an American ship's crew shown more zeal or patience; its
failure could not be placed to their charge--there remained nothing but
to return.

This was represented to the commander.  The sailors could not hide
their discontent, and the service suffered.  I will not say there was a
mutiny on board, but after a reasonable period of obstinacy, Captain
Farragut (as Columbus did) asked for three days' patience.  If in three
days the monster did not appear, the man at the helm should give three
turns of the wheel, and the Abraham Lincoln would make for the European
seas.

This promise was made on the 2nd of November.  It had the effect of
rallying the ship's crew.  The ocean was watched with renewed
attention.  Each one wished for a last glance in which to sum up his
remembrance.  Glasses were used with feverish activity.  It was a grand
defiance given to the giant narwhal, and he could scarcely fail to
answer the summons and "appear."

Two days passed, the steam was at half pressure; a thousand schemes
were tried to attract the attention and stimulate the apathy of the
animal in case it should be met in those parts.  Large quantities of
bacon were trailed in the wake of the ship, to the great satisfaction
(I must say) of the sharks.  Small craft radiated in all directions
round the Abraham Lincoln as she lay to, and did not leave a spot of
the sea unexplored.  But the night of the 4th of November arrived
without the unveiling of this submarine mystery.

The next day, the 5th of November, at twelve, the delay would (morally
speaking) expire; after that time, Commander Farragut, faithful to his
promise, was to turn the course to the south-east and abandon for ever
the northern regions of the Pacific.

The frigate was then in 31° 15' N. lat. and 136° 42' E. long.
The coast of Japan still remained less than two hundred miles to
leeward.  Night was approaching.  They had just struck eight bells;
large clouds veiled the face of the moon, then in its first quarter.
The sea undulated peaceably under the stern of the vessel.

At that moment I was leaning forward on the starboard netting.
Conseil, standing near me, was looking straight before him.  The crew,
perched in the ratlines, examined the horizon which contracted and
darkened by degrees.  Officers with their night glasses scoured the
growing darkness:  sometimes the ocean sparkled under the rays of the
moon, which darted between two clouds, then all trace of light was lost
in the darkness.

In looking at Conseil, I could see he was undergoing a little of the
general influence.  At least I thought so.  Perhaps for the first time
his nerves vibrated to a sentiment of curiosity.

"Come, Conseil," said I, "this is the last chance of pocketing the two
thousand dollars."

"May I be permitted to say, sir," replied Conseil, "that I never
reckoned on getting the prize; and, had the government of the Union
offered a hundred thousand dollars, it would have been none the poorer."

"You are right, Conseil.  It is a foolish affair after all, and one
upon which we entered too lightly.  What time lost, what useless
emotions!  We should have been back in France six months ago."

"In your little room, sir," replied Conseil, "and in your museum, sir;
and I should have already classed all your fossils, sir.  And the
Babiroussa would have been installed in its cage in the Jardin des
Plantes, and have drawn all the curious people of the capital!"

"As you say, Conseil.  I fancy we shall run a fair chance of being
laughed at for our pains."

"That's tolerably certain," replied Conseil, quietly; "I think they
will make fun of you, sir.  And, must I say it----?"

"Go on, my good friend."

"Well, sir, you will only get your deserts."

"Indeed!"

"When one has the honour of being a savant as you are, sir, one should
not expose one's self to----"

Conseil had not time to finish his compliment.  In the midst of general
silence a voice had just been heard.  It was the voice of Ned Land
shouting:

"Look out there!  The very thing we are looking for--on our weather
beam!"



CHAPTER VI

AT FULL STEAM

At this cry the whole ship's crew hurried towards the
harpooner--commander, officers, masters, sailors, cabin boys; even the
engineers left their engines, and the stokers their furnaces.

The order to stop her had been given, and the frigate now simply went
on by her own momentum.  The darkness was then profound, and, however
good the Canadian's eyes were, I asked myself how he had managed to
see, and what he had been able to see.  My heart beat as if it would
break.  But Ned Land was not mistaken, and we all perceived the object
he pointed to.  At two cables' length from the Abraham Lincoln, on the
starboard quarter, the sea seemed to be illuminated all over.  It was
not a mere phosphoric phenomenon.  The monster emerged some fathoms
from the water, and then threw out that very intense but mysterious
light mentioned in the report of several captains.  This magnificent
irradiation must have been produced by an agent of great SHINING power.
The luminous part traced on the sea an immense oval, much elongated,
the centre of which condensed a burning heat, whose overpowering
brilliancy died out by successive gradations.

"It is only a massing of phosphoric particles," cried one of the
officers.

"No, sir, certainly not," I replied.  "That brightness is of an
essentially electrical nature.  Besides, see, see! it moves; it is
moving forwards, backwards; it is darting towards us!"

A general cry arose from the frigate.

"Silence!" said the captain.  "Up with the helm, reverse the engines."

The steam was shut off, and the Abraham Lincoln, beating to port,
described a semicircle.

"Right the helm, go ahead," cried the captain.

These orders were executed, and the frigate moved rapidly from the
burning light.

I was mistaken.  She tried to sheer off, but the supernatural animal
approached with a velocity double her own.

We gasped for breath.  Stupefaction more than fear made us dumb and
motionless.  The animal gained on us, sporting with the waves.  It made
the round of the frigate, which was then making fourteen knots, and
enveloped it with its electric rings like luminous dust.

Then it moved away two or three miles, leaving a phosphorescent track,
like those volumes of steam that the express trains leave behind.  All
at once from the dark line of the horizon whither it retired to gain
its momentum, the monster rushed suddenly towards the Abraham Lincoln
with alarming rapidity, stopped suddenly about twenty feet from the
hull, and died out--not diving under the water, for its brilliancy did
not abate--but suddenly, and as if the source of this brilliant
emanation was exhausted.  Then it reappeared on the other side of the
vessel, as if it had turned and slid under the hull.  Any moment a
collision might have occurred which would have been fatal to us.
However, I was astonished at the manoeuvres of the frigate.  She fled
and did not attack.

On the captain's face, generally so impassive, was an expression of
unaccountable astonishment.

"Mr. Aronnax," he said, "I do not know with what formidable being I
have to deal, and I will not imprudently risk my frigate in the midst
of this darkness.  Besides, how attack this unknown thing, how defend
one's self from it?  Wait for daylight, and the scene will change."

"You have no further doubt, captain, of the nature of the animal?"

"No, sir; it is evidently a gigantic narwhal, and an electric one."

"Perhaps," added I, "one can only approach it with a torpedo."

"Undoubtedly," replied the captain, "if it possesses such dreadful
power, it is the most terrible animal that ever was created.  That is
why, sir, I must be on my guard."

The crew were on their feet all night.  No one thought of sleep.  The
Abraham Lincoln, not being able to struggle with such velocity, had
moderated its pace, and sailed at half speed.  For its part, the
narwhal, imitating the frigate, let the waves rock it at will, and
seemed decided not to leave the scene of the struggle.  Towards
midnight, however, it disappeared, or, to use a more appropriate term,
it "died out" like a large glow-worm. Had it fled?  One could only
fear, not hope it.  But at seven minutes to one o'clock in the morning
a deafening whistling was heard, like that produced by a body of water
rushing with great violence.

The captain, Ned Land, and I were then on the poop, eagerly peering
through the profound darkness.

"Ned Land," asked the commander, "you have often heard the roaring of
whales?"

"Often, sir; but never such whales the sight of which brought me in two
thousand dollars.  If I can only approach within four harpoons' length
of it!"

"But to approach it," said the commander, "I ought to put a whaler at
your disposal?"

"Certainly, sir."

"That will be trifling with the lives of my men."

"And mine too," simply said the harpooner.

Towards two o'clock in the morning, the burning light reappeared, not
less intense, about five miles to windward of the Abraham Lincoln.
Notwithstanding the distance, and the noise of the wind and sea, one
heard distinctly the loud strokes of the animal's tail, and even its
panting breath.  It seemed that, at the moment that the enormous
narwhal had come to take breath at the surface of the water, the air
was engulfed in its lungs, like the steam in the vast cylinders of a
machine of two thousand horse-power.

"Hum!" thought I, "a whale with the strength of a cavalry regiment
would be a pretty whale!"

We were on the qui vive till daylight, and prepared for the combat.
The fishing implements were laid along the hammock nettings.  The
second lieutenant loaded the blunder busses, which could throw harpoons
to the distance of a mile, and long duck-guns, with explosive bullets,
which inflicted mortal wounds even to the most terrible animals.  Ned
Land contented himself with sharpening his harpoon--a terrible weapon
in his hands.

At six o'clock day began to break; and, with the first glimmer of
light, the electric light of the narwhal disappeared.  At seven o'clock
the day was sufficiently advanced, but a very thick sea fog obscured
our view, and the best spy glasses could not pierce it.  That caused
disappointment and anger.

I climbed the mizzen-mast. Some officers were already perched on the
mast-heads. At eight o'clock the fog lay heavily on the waves, and its
thick scrolls rose little by little.  The horizon grew wider and
clearer at the same time.  Suddenly, just as on the day before, Ned
Land's voice was heard:

"The thing itself on the port quarter!" cried the harpooner.

Every eye was turned towards the point indicated.  There, a mile and a
half from the frigate, a long blackish body emerged a yard above the
waves.  Its tail, violently agitated, produced a considerable eddy.
Never did a tail beat the sea with such violence.  An immense track, of
dazzling whiteness, marked the passage of the animal, and described a
long curve.

The frigate approached the cetacean.  I examined it thoroughly.

The reports of the Shannon and of the Helvetia had rather exaggerated
its size, and I estimated its length at only two hundred and fifty
feet.  As to its dimensions, I could only conjecture them to be
admirably proportioned.  While I watched this phenomenon, two jets of
steam and water were ejected from its vents, and rose to the height of
120 feet; thus I ascertained its way of breathing.  I concluded
definitely that it belonged to the vertebrate branch, class mammalia.

The crew waited impatiently for their chief's orders.  The latter,
after having observed the animal attentively, called the engineer.  The
engineer ran to him.

"Sir," said the commander, "you have steam up?"

"Yes, sir," answered the engineer.

"Well, make up your fires and put on all steam."

Three hurrahs greeted this order.  The time for the struggle had
arrived.  Some moments after, the two funnels of the frigate vomited
torrents of black smoke, and the bridge quaked under the trembling of
the boilers.

The Abraham Lincoln, propelled by her wonderful screw, went straight at
the animal.  The latter allowed it to come within half a cable's
length; then, as if disdaining to dive, it took a little turn, and
stopped a short distance off.

This pursuit lasted nearly three-quarters of an hour, without the
frigate gaining two yards on the cetacean.  It was quite evident that
at that rate we should never come up with it.

"Well, Mr. Land," asked the captain, "do you advise me to put the boats
out to sea?"

"No, sir," replied Ned Land; "because we shall not take that beast
easily."

"What shall we do then?"

"Put on more steam if you can, sir.  With your leave, I mean to post
myself under the bowsprit, and, if we get within harpooning distance, I
shall throw my harpoon."

"Go, Ned," said the captain.  "Engineer, put on more pressure."

Ned Land went to his post.  The fires were increased, the screw
revolved forty-three times a minute, and the steam poured out of the
valves.  We heaved the log, and calculated that the Abraham Lincoln was
going at the rate of 18 1/2 miles an hour.

But the accursed animal swam at the same speed.

For a whole hour the frigate kept up this pace, without gaining six
feet.  It was humiliating for one of the swiftest sailers in the
American navy.  A stubborn anger seized the crew; the sailors abused
the monster, who, as before, disdained to answer them; the captain no
longer contented himself with twisting his beard--he gnawed it.

The engineer was called again.

"You have turned full steam on?"

"Yes, sir," replied the engineer.

The speed of the Abraham Lincoln increased.  Its masts trembled down to
their stepping holes, and the clouds of smoke could hardly find way out
of the narrow funnels.

They heaved the log a second time.

"Well?" asked the captain of the man at the wheel.

"Nineteen miles and three-tenths, sir."

"Clap on more steam."

The engineer obeyed.  The manometer showed ten degrees.  But the
cetacean grew warm itself, no doubt; for without straining itself, it
made 19 3/10 miles.

What a pursuit!  No, I cannot describe the emotion that vibrated
through me.  Ned Land kept his post, harpoon in hand.  Several times
the animal let us gain upon it.--"We shall catch it! we shall catch
it!" cried the Canadian.  But just as he was going to strike, the
cetacean stole away with a rapidity that could not be estimated at less
than thirty miles an hour, and even during our maximum of speed, it
bullied the frigate, going round and round it.  A cry of fury broke
from everyone!

At noon we were no further advanced than at eight o'clock in the
morning.

The captain then decided to take more direct means.

"Ah!" said he, "that animal goes quicker than the Abraham Lincoln.
Very well! we will see whether it will escape these conical bullets.
Send your men to the forecastle, sir."

The forecastle gun was immediately loaded and slewed round.  But the
shot passed some feet above the cetacean, which was half a mile off.

"Another, more to the right," cried the commander, "and five dollars to
whoever will hit that infernal beast."

An old gunner with a grey beard--that I can see now--with steady eye
and grave face, went up to the gun and took a long aim.  A loud report
was heard, with which were mingled the cheers of the crew.

The bullet did its work; it hit the animal, and, sliding off the
rounded surface, was lost in two miles depth of sea.

The chase began again, and the captain, leaning towards me, said:

"I will pursue that beast till my frigate bursts up."

"Yes," answered I; "and you will be quite right to do it."

I wished the beast would exhaust itself, and not be insensible to
fatigue like a steam engine.  But it was of no use.  Hours passed,
without its showing any signs of exhaustion.

However, it must be said in praise of the Abraham Lincoln that she
struggled on indefatigably.  I cannot reckon the distance she made
under three hundred miles during this unlucky day, November the 6th.
But night came on, and overshadowed the rough ocean.

Now I thought our expedition was at an end, and that we should never
again see the extraordinary animal.  I was mistaken.  At ten minutes to
eleven in the evening, the electric light reappeared three miles to
windward of the frigate, as pure, as intense as during the preceding
night.

The narwhal seemed motionless; perhaps, tired with its day's work, it
slept, letting itself float with the undulation of the waves.  Now was
a chance of which the captain resolved to take advantage.

He gave his orders.  The Abraham Lincoln kept up half steam, and
advanced cautiously so as not to awake its adversary.  It is no rare
thing to meet in the middle of the ocean whales so sound asleep that
they can be successfully attacked, and Ned Land had harpooned more than
one during its sleep.  The Canadian went to take his place again under
the bowsprit.

The frigate approached noiselessly, stopped at two cables' lengths from
the animal, and following its track.  No one breathed; a deep silence
reigned on the bridge.  We were not a hundred feet from the burning
focus, the light of which increased and dazzled our eyes.

At this moment, leaning on the forecastle bulwark, I saw below me Ned
Land grappling the martingale in one hand, brandishing his terrible
harpoon in the other, scarcely twenty feet from the motionless animal.
Suddenly his arm straightened, and the harpoon was thrown; I heard the
sonorous stroke of the weapon, which seemed to have struck a hard body.
The electric light went out suddenly, and two enormous waterspouts
broke over the bridge of the frigate, rushing like a torrent from stem
to stern, overthrowing men, and breaking the lashings of the spars.  A
fearful shock followed, and, thrown over the rail without having time
to stop myself, I fell into the sea.



CHAPTER VII

AN UNKNOWN SPECIES OF WHALE

This unexpected fall so stunned me that I have no clear recollection of
my sensations at the time.  I was at first drawn down to a depth of
about twenty feet.  I am a good swimmer (though without pretending to
rival Byron or Edgar Poe, who were masters of the art), and in that
plunge I did not lose my presence of mind.  Two vigorous strokes
brought me to the surface of the water.  My first care was to look for
the frigate.  Had the crew seen me disappear?  Had the Abraham Lincoln
veered round?  Would the captain put out a boat?  Might I hope to be
saved?

The darkness was intense.  I caught a glimpse of a black mass
disappearing in the east, its beacon lights dying out in the distance.
It was the frigate!  I was lost.

"Help, help!"  I shouted, swimming towards the Abraham Lincoln in
desperation.

My clothes encumbered me; they seemed glued to my body, and paralysed
my movements.

I was sinking!  I was suffocating!

"Help!"

This was my last cry.  My mouth filled with water; I struggled against
being drawn down the abyss.  Suddenly my clothes were seized by a
strong hand, and I felt myself quickly drawn up to the surface of the
sea; and I heard, yes, I heard these words pronounced in my ear:

"If master would be so good as to lean on my shoulder, master would
swim with much greater ease."

I seized with one hand my faithful Conseil's arm.

"Is it you?" said I, "you?"

"Myself," answered Conseil; "and waiting master's orders."

"That shock threw you as well as me into the sea?"

"No; but, being in my master's service, I followed him."

The worthy fellow thought that was but natural.

"And the frigate?"  I asked.

"The frigate?" replied Conseil, turning on his back; "I think that
master had better not count too much on her."

"You think so?"

"I say that, at the time I threw myself into the sea, I heard the men
at the wheel say, `The screw and the rudder are broken.'

"Broken?"

"Yes, broken by the monster's teeth.  It is the only injury the Abraham
Lincoln has sustained.  But it is a bad look-out for us--she no longer
answers her helm."

"Then we are lost!"

"Perhaps so," calmly answered Conseil.  "However, we have still several
hours before us, and one can do a good deal in some hours."

Conseil's imperturbable coolness set me up again.  I swam more
vigorously; but, cramped by my clothes, which stuck to me like a leaden
weight, I felt great difficulty in bearing up.  Conseil saw this.

"Will master let me make a slit?" said he; and, slipping an open knife
under my clothes, he ripped them up from top to bottom very rapidly.
Then he cleverly slipped them off me, while I swam for both of us.

Then I did the same for Conseil, and we continued to swim near to each
other.

Nevertheless, our situation was no less terrible.  Perhaps our
disappearance had not been noticed; and, if it had been, the frigate
could not tack, being without its helm.  Conseil argued on this
supposition, and laid his plans accordingly.  This quiet boy was
perfectly self-possessed. We then decided that, as our only chance of
safety was being picked up by the Abraham Lincoln's boats, we ought to
manage so as to wait for them as long as possible.  I resolved then to
husband our strength, so that both should not be exhausted at the same
time; and this is how we managed:  while one of us lay on our back,
quite still, with arms crossed, and legs stretched out, the other would
swim and push the other on in front.  This towing business did not last
more than ten minutes each; and relieving each other thus, we could
swim on for some hours, perhaps till day-break. Poor chance! but hope
is so firmly rooted in the heart of man!  Moreover, there were two of
us.  Indeed I declare (though it may seem improbable) if I sought to
destroy all hope--if I wished to despair, I could not.

The collision of the frigate with the cetacean had occurred about
eleven o'clock in the evening before.  I reckoned then we should have
eight hours to swim before sunrise, an operation quite practicable if
we relieved each other.  The sea, very calm, was in our favour.
Sometimes I tried to pierce the intense darkness that was only
dispelled by the phosphorescence caused by our movements.  I watched
the luminous waves that broke over my hand, whose mirror-like surface
was spotted with silvery rings.  One might have said that we were in a
bath of quicksilver.

Near one o'clock in the morning, I was seized with dreadful fatigue.
My limbs stiffened under the strain of violent cramp.  Conseil was
obliged to keep me up, and our preservation devolved on him alone.  I
heard the poor boy pant; his breathing became short and hurried.  I
found that he could not keep up much longer.

"Leave me! leave me!"  I said to him.

"Leave my master?  Never!" replied he.  "I would drown first."

Just then the moon appeared through the fringes of a thick cloud that
the wind was driving to the east.  The surface of the sea glittered
with its rays.  This kindly light reanimated us.  My head got better
again.  I looked at all points of the horizon.  I saw the frigate!  She
was five miles from us, and looked like a dark mass, hardly
discernible.  But no boats!

I would have cried out.  But what good would it have been at such a
distance!  My swollen lips could utter no sounds.  Conseil could
articulate some words, and I heard him repeat at intervals, "Help!
help!"

Our movements were suspended for an instant; we listened.  It might be
only a singing in the ear, but it seemed to me as if a cry answered the
cry from Conseil.

"Did you hear?"  I murmured.

"Yes!  Yes!"

And Conseil gave one more despairing cry.

This time there was no mistake!  A human voice responded to ours!  Was
it the voice of another unfortunate creature, abandoned in the middle
of the ocean, some other victim of the shock sustained by the vessel?
Or rather was it a boat from the frigate, that was hailing us in the
darkness?

Conseil made a last effort, and, leaning on my shoulder, while I struck
out in a desperate effort, he raised himself half out of the water,
then fell back exhausted.

"What did you see?"

"I saw----" murmured he; "I saw--but do not talk--reserve all your
strength!"

What had he seen?  Then, I know not why, the thought of the monster
came into my head for the first time!  But that voice!  The time is
past for Jonahs to take refuge in whales' bellies!  However, Conseil
was towing me again.  He raised his head sometimes, looked before us,
and uttered a cry of recognition, which was responded to by a voice
that came nearer and nearer.  I scarcely heard it.  My strength was
exhausted; my fingers stiffened; my hand afforded me support no longer;
my mouth, convulsively opening, filled with salt water.  Cold crept
over me.  I raised my head for the last time, then I sank.

At this moment a hard body struck me.  I clung to it: then I felt that
I was being drawn up, that I was brought to the surface of the water,
that my chest collapsed--I fainted.

It is certain that I soon came to, thanks to the vigorous rubbings that
I received.  I half opened my eyes.

"Conseil!"  I murmured.

"Does master call me?" asked Conseil.

Just then, by the waning light of the moon which was sinking down to
the horizon, I saw a face which was not Conseil's and which I
immediately recognised.

"Ned!"  I cried.

"The same, sir, who is seeking his prize!" replied the Canadian.

"Were you thrown into the sea by the shock to the frigate?"

"Yes, Professor; but more fortunate than you, I was able to find a
footing almost directly upon a floating island."

"An island?"

"Or, more correctly speaking, on our gigantic narwhal."

"Explain yourself, Ned!"

"Only I soon found out why my harpoon had not entered its skin and was
blunted."

"Why, Ned, why?"

"Because, Professor, that beast is made of sheet iron."

The Canadian's last words produced a sudden revolution in my brain.  I
wriggled myself quickly to the top of the being, or object, half out of
the water, which served us for a refuge.  I kicked it.  It was
evidently a hard, impenetrable body, and not the soft substance that
forms the bodies of the great marine mammalia.  But this hard body
might be a bony covering, like that of the antediluvian animals; and I
should be free to class this monster among amphibious reptiles, such as
tortoises or alligators.

Well, no! the blackish back that supported me was smooth, polished,
without scales.  The blow produced a metallic sound; and, incredible
though it may be, it seemed, I might say, as if it was made of riveted
plates.

There was no doubt about it!  This monster, this natural phenomenon
that had puzzled the learned world, and over thrown and misled the
imagination of seamen of both hemispheres, it must be owned was a still
more astonishing phenomenon, inasmuch as it was a simply human
construction.

We had no time to lose, however.  We were lying upon the back of a sort
of submarine boat, which appeared (as far as I could judge) like a huge
fish of steel.  Ned Land's mind was made up on this point.  Conseil and
I could only agree with him.

Just then a bubbling began at the back of this strange thing (which was
evidently propelled by a screw), and it began to move.  We had only
just time to seize hold of the upper part, which rose about seven feet
out of the water, and happily its speed was not great.

"As long as it sails horizontally," muttered Ned Land, "I do not mind;
but, if it takes a fancy to dive, I would not give two straws for my
life."

The Canadian might have said still less.  It became really necessary to
communicate with the beings, whatever they were, shut up inside the
machine.  I searched all over the outside for an aperture, a panel, or
a manhole, to use a technical expression; but the lines of the iron
rivets, solidly driven into the joints of the iron plates, were clear
and uniform.  Besides, the moon disappeared then, and left us in total
darkness.

At last this long night passed.  My indistinct remembrance prevents my
describing all the impressions it made.  I can only recall one
circumstance.  During some lulls of the wind and sea, I fancied I heard
several times vague sounds, a sort of fugitive harmony produced by
words of command.  What was, then, the mystery of this submarine craft,
of which the whole world vainly sought an explanation?  What kind of
beings existed in this strange boat?  What mechanical agent caused its
prodigious speed?

Daybreak appeared.  The morning mists surrounded us, but they soon
cleared off.  I was about to examine the hull, which formed on deck a
kind of horizontal platform, when I felt it gradually sinking.

"Oh! confound it!" cried Ned Land, kicking the resounding plate.
"Open, you inhospitable rascals!"

Happily the sinking movement ceased.  Suddenly a noise, like iron works
violently pushed aside, came from the interior of the boat.  One iron
plate was moved, a man appeared, uttered an odd cry, and disappeared
immediately.

Some moments after, eight strong men, with masked faces, appeared
noiselessly, and drew us down into their formidable machine.



CHAPTER VIII

MOBILIS IN MOBILI

This forcible abduction, so roughly carried out, was accomplished with
the rapidity of lightning.  I shivered all over.  Whom had we to deal
with?  No doubt some new sort of pirates, who explored the sea in their
own way.  Hardly had the narrow panel closed upon me, when I was
enveloped in darkness.  My eyes, dazzled with the outer light, could
distinguish nothing.  I felt my naked feet cling to the rungs of an
iron ladder.  Ned Land and Conseil, firmly seized, followed me.  At the
bottom of the ladder, a door opened, and shut after us immediately with
a bang.

We were alone.  Where, I could not say, hardly imagine.  All was black,
and such a dense black that, after some minutes, my eyes had not been
able to discern even the faintest glimmer.

Meanwhile, Ned Land, furious at these proceedings, gave free vent to
his indignation.

"Confound it!" cried he, "here are people who come up to the Scotch for
hospitality.  They only just miss being cannibals.  I should not be
surprised at it, but I declare that they shall not eat me without my
protesting."

"Calm yourself, friend Ned, calm yourself," replied Conseil, quietly.
"Do not cry out before you are hurt.  We are not quite done for yet."

"Not quite," sharply replied the Canadian, "but pretty near, at all
events.  Things look black.  Happily, my bowie knife I have still, and
I can always see well enough to use it.  The first of these pirates who
lays a hand on me----"

"Do not excite yourself, Ned," I said to the harpooner, "and do not
compromise us by useless violence.  Who knows that they will not listen
to us?  Let us rather try to find out where we are."

I groped about.  In five steps I came to an iron wall, made of plates
bolted together.  Then turning back I struck against a wooden table,
near which were ranged several stools.  The boards of this prison were
concealed under a thick mat, which deadened the noise of the feet.  The
bare walls revealed no trace of window or door.  Conseil, going round
the reverse way, met me, and we went back to the middle of the cabin,
which measured about twenty feet by ten.  As to its height, Ned Land,
in spite of his own great height, could not measure it.

Half an hour had already passed without our situation being bettered,
when the dense darkness suddenly gave way to extreme light.  Our prison
was suddenly lighted, that is to say, it became filled with a luminous
matter, so strong that I could not bear it at first.  In its whiteness
and intensity I recognised that electric light which played round the
submarine boat like a magnificent phenomenon of phosphorescence.  After
shutting my eyes involuntarily, I opened them, and saw that this
luminous agent came from a half globe, unpolished, placed in the roof
of the cabin.

"At last one can see," cried Ned Land, who, knife in hand, stood on the
defensive.

"Yes," said I; "but we are still in the dark about ourselves."

"Let master have patience," said the imperturbable Conseil.

The sudden lighting of the cabin enabled me to examine it minutely.  It
only contained a table and five stools.  The invisible door might be
hermetically sealed.  No noise was heard.  All seemed dead in the
interior of this boat.  Did it move, did it float on the surface of the
ocean, or did it dive into its depths?  I could not guess.

A noise of bolts was now heard, the door opened, and two men appeared.

One was short, very muscular, broad-shouldered, with robust limbs,
strong head, an abundance of black hair, thick moustache, a quick
penetrating look, and the vivacity which characterises the population
of Southern France.

The second stranger merits a more detailed description.  I made out his
prevailing qualities directly:  self-confidence--because his head was
well set on his shoulders, and his black eyes looked around with cold
assurance; calmness--for his skin, rather pale, showed his coolness of
blood; energy--evinced by the rapid contraction of his lofty brows; and
courage--because his deep breathing denoted great power of lungs.

Whether this person was thirty-five or fifty years of age, I could not
say.  He was tall, had a large forehead, straight nose, a clearly cut
mouth, beautiful teeth, with fine taper hands, indicative of a highly
nervous temperament.  This man was certainly the most admirable
specimen I had ever met.  One particular feature was his eyes, rather
far from each other, and which could take in nearly a quarter of the
horizon at once.

This faculty--(I verified it later)--gave him a range of vision far
superior to Ned Land's. When this stranger fixed upon an object, his
eyebrows met, his large eyelids closed around so as to contract the
range of his vision, and he looked as if he magnified the objects
lessened by distance, as if he pierced those sheets of water so opaque
to our eyes, and as if he read the very depths of the seas.

The two strangers, with caps made from the fur of the sea otter, and
shod with sea boots of seal's skin, were dressed in clothes of a
particular texture, which allowed free movement of the limbs.  The
taller of the two, evidently the chief on board, examined us with great
attention, without saying a word; then, turning to his companion,
talked with him in an unknown tongue.  It was a sonorous, harmonious,
and flexible dialect, the vowels seeming to admit of very varied
accentuation.

The other replied by a shake of the head, and added two or three
perfectly incomprehensible words.  Then he seemed to question me by a
look.

I replied in good French that I did not know his language; but he
seemed not to understand me, and my situation became more embarrassing.

"If master were to tell our story," said Conseil, "perhaps these
gentlemen may understand some words."

I began to tell our adventures, articulating each syllable clearly, and
without omitting one single detail.  I announced our names and rank,
introducing in person Professor Aronnax, his servant Conseil, and
master Ned Land, the harpooner.

The man with the soft calm eyes listened to me quietly, even politely,
and with extreme attention; but nothing in his countenance indicated
that he had understood my story.  When I finished, he said not a word.

There remained one resource, to speak English.  Perhaps they would know
this almost universal language.  I knew it--as well as the German
language--well enough to read it fluently, but not to speak it
correctly.  But, anyhow, we must make ourselves understood.

"Go on in your turn," I said to the harpooner; "speak your best
Anglo-Saxon, and try to do better than I."

Ned did not beg off, and recommenced our story.

To his great disgust, the harpooner did not seem to have made himself
more intelligible than I had.  Our visitors did not stir.  They
evidently understood neither the language of England nor of France.

Very much embarrassed, after having vainly exhausted our speaking
resources, I knew not what part to take, when Conseil said:

"If master will permit me, I will relate it in German."

But in spite of the elegant terms and good accent of the narrator, the
German language had no success.  At last, nonplussed, I tried to
remember my first lessons, and to narrate our adventures in Latin, but
with no better success.  This last attempt being of no avail, the two
strangers exchanged some words in their unknown language, and retired.

The door shut.

"It is an infamous shame," cried Ned Land, who broke out for the
twentieth time.  "We speak to those rogues in French, English, German,
and Latin, and not one of them has the politeness to answer!"

"Calm yourself," I said to the impetuous Ned; "anger will do no good."

"But do you see, Professor," replied our irascible companion, "that we
shall absolutely die of hunger in this iron cage?"

"Bah!" said Conseil, philosophically; "we can hold out some time yet."

"My friends," I said, "we must not despair.  We have been worse off
than this.  Do me the favour to wait a little before forming an opinion
upon the commander and crew of this boat."

"My opinion is formed," replied Ned Land, sharply.  "They are rascals."

"Good! and from what country?"

"From the land of rogues!"

"My brave Ned, that country is not clearly indicated on the map of the
world; but I admit that the nationality of the two strangers is hard to
determine.  Neither English, French, nor German, that is quite certain.
However, I am inclined to think that the commander and his companion
were born in low latitudes.  There is southern blood in them.  But I
cannot decide by their appearance whether they are Spaniards, Turks,
Arabians, or Indians.  As to their language, it is quite
incomprehensible."

"There is the disadvantage of not knowing all languages," said Conseil,
"or the disadvantage of not having one universal language."

As he said these words, the door opened.  A steward entered.  He
brought us clothes, coats and trousers, made of a stuff I did not know.
I hastened to dress myself, and my companions followed my example.
During that time, the steward--dumb, perhaps deaf--had arranged the
table, and laid three plates.

"This is something like!" said Conseil.

"Bah!" said the angry harpooner, "what do you suppose they eat here?
Tortoise liver, filleted shark, and beef steaks from seadogs."

"We shall see," said Conseil.

The dishes, of bell metal, were placed on the table, and we took our
places.  Undoubtedly we had to do with civilised people, and, had it
not been for the electric light which flooded us, I could have fancied
I was in the dining-room of the Adelphi Hotel at Liverpool, or at the
Grand Hotel in Paris.  I must say, however, that there was neither
bread nor wine.  The water was fresh and clear, but it was water and
did not suit Ned Land's taste.  Amongst the dishes which were brought
to us, I recognised several fish delicately dressed; but of some,
although excellent, I could give no opinion, neither could I tell to
what kingdom they belonged, whether animal or vegetable.  As to the
dinner-service, it was elegant, and in perfect taste.  Each
utensil--spoon, fork, knife, plate--had a letter engraved on it, with a
motto above it, of which this is an exact facsimile:


MOBILIS IN MOBILI N

The letter N was no doubt the initial of the name of the enigmatical
person who commanded at the bottom of the seas.

Ned and Conseil did not reflect much.  They devoured the food, and I
did likewise.  I was, besides, reassured as to our fate; and it seemed
evident that our hosts would not let us die of want.

However, everything has an end, everything passes away, even the hunger
of people who have not eaten for fifteen hours.  Our appetites
satisfied, we felt overcome with sleep.

"Faith!  I shall sleep well," said Conseil.

"So shall I," replied Ned Land.

My two companions stretched themselves on the cabin carpet, and were
soon sound asleep.  For my own part, too many thoughts crowded my
brain, too many insoluble questions pressed upon me, too many fancies
kept my eyes half open.  Where were we?  What strange power carried us
on?  I felt--or rather fancied I felt--the machine sinking down to the
lowest beds of the sea.  Dreadful nightmares beset me; I saw in these
mysterious asylums a world of unknown animals, amongst which this
submarine boat seemed to be of the same kind, living, moving, and
formidable as they.  Then my brain grew calmer, my imagination wandered
into vague unconsciousness, and I soon fell into a deep sleep.



CHAPTER IX

NED LAND'S TEMPERS

How long we slept I do not know; but our sleep must have lasted long,
for it rested us completely from our fatigues.  I woke first.  My
companions had not moved, and were still stretched in their corner.

Hardly roused from my somewhat hard couch, I felt my brain freed, my
mind clear.  I then began an attentive examination of our cell.
Nothing was changed inside.  The prison was still a prison--the
prisoners, prisoners.  However, the steward, during our sleep, had
cleared the table.  I breathed with difficulty.  The heavy air seemed
to oppress my lungs.  Although the cell was large, we had evidently
consumed a great part of the oxygen that it contained.  Indeed, each
man consumes, in one hour, the oxygen contained in more than 176 pints
of air, and this air, charged (as then) with a nearly equal quantity of
carbonic acid, becomes unbreathable.

It became necessary to renew the atmosphere of our prison, and no doubt
the whole in the submarine boat.  That gave rise to a question in my
mind.  How would the commander of this floating dwelling-place proceed?
Would he obtain air by chemical means, in getting by heat the oxygen
contained in chlorate of potash, and in absorbing carbonic acid by
caustic potash?  Or--a more convenient, economical, and consequently
more probable alternative--would he be satisfied to rise and take
breath at the surface of the water, like a whale, and so renew for
twenty-four hours the atmospheric provision?

In fact, I was already obliged to increase my respirations to eke out
of this cell the little oxygen it contained, when suddenly I was
refreshed by a current of pure air, and perfumed with saline
emanations.  It was an invigorating sea breeze, charged with iodine.  I
opened my mouth wide, and my lungs saturated themselves with fresh
particles.

At the same time I felt the boat rolling.  The iron-plated monster had
evidently just risen to the surface of the ocean to breathe, after the
fashion of whales.  I found out from that the mode of ventilating the
boat.

When I had inhaled this air freely, I sought the conduit pipe, which
conveyed to us the beneficial whiff, and I was not long in finding it.
Above the door was a ventilator, through which volumes of fresh air
renewed the impoverished atmosphere of the cell.

I was making my observations, when Ned and Conseil awoke almost at the
same time, under the influence of this reviving air.  They rubbed their
eyes, stretched themselves, and were on their feet in an instant.

"Did master sleep well?" asked Conseil, with his usual politeness.

"Very well, my brave boy.  And you, Mr. Land?"

"Soundly, Professor.  But, I don't know if I am right or not, there
seems to be a sea breeze!"

A seaman could not be mistaken, and I told the Canadian all that had
passed during his sleep.

"Good!" said he.  "That accounts for those roarings we heard, when the
supposed narwhal sighted the Abraham Lincoln."

"Quite so, Master Land; it was taking breath."

"Only, Mr. Aronnax, I have no idea what o'clock it is, unless it is
dinner-time."

"Dinner-time! my good fellow?  Say rather breakfast-time, for we
certainly have begun another day."

"So," said Conseil, "we have slept twenty-four hours?"

"That is my opinion."

"I will not contradict you," replied Ned Land.  "But, dinner or
breakfast, the steward will be welcome, whichever he brings."

"Master Land, we must conform to the rules on board, and I suppose our
appetites are in advance of the dinner hour."

"That is just like you, friend Conseil," said Ned, impatiently.  "You
are never out of temper, always calm; you would return thanks before
grace, and die of hunger rather than complain!"

Time was getting on, and we were fearfully hungry; and this time the
steward did not appear.  It was rather too long to leave us, if they
really had good intentions towards us.  Ned Land, tormented by the
cravings of hunger, got still more angry; and, notwithstanding his
promise, I dreaded an explosion when he found himself with one of the
crew.

For two hours more Ned Land's temper increased; he cried, he shouted,
but in vain.  The walls were deaf.  There was no sound to be heard in
the boat; all was still as death.  It did not move, for I should have
felt the trembling motion of the hull under the influence of the screw.
Plunged in the depths of the waters, it belonged no longer to earth:
this silence was dreadful.

I felt terrified, Conseil was calm, Ned Land roared.

Just then a noise was heard outside.  Steps sounded on the metal flags.
The locks were turned, the door opened, and the steward appeared.

Before I could rush forward to stop him, the Canadian had thrown him
down, and held him by the throat.  The steward was choking under the
grip of his powerful hand.

Conseil was already trying to unclasp the harpooner's hand from his
half-suffocated victim, and I was going to fly to the rescue, when
suddenly I was nailed to the spot by hearing these words in French:

"Be quiet, Master Land; and you, Professor, will you be so good as to
listen to me?"



CHAPTER X

THE MAN OF THE SEAS

It was the commander of the vessel who thus spoke.

At these words, Ned Land rose suddenly.  The steward, nearly strangled,
tottered out on a sign from his master.  But such was the power of the
commander on board, that not a gesture betrayed the resentment which
this man must have felt towards the Canadian.  Conseil interested in
spite of himself, I stupefied, awaited in silence the result of this
scene.

The commander, leaning against the corner of a table with his arms
folded, scanned us with profound attention.  Did he hesitate to speak?
Did he regret the words which he had just spoken in French?  One might
almost think so.

After some moments of silence, which not one of us dreamed of breaking,
"Gentlemen," said he, in a calm and penetrating voice, "I speak French,
English, German, and Latin equally well.  I could, therefore, have
answered you at our first interview, but I wished to know you first,
then to reflect.  The story told by each one, entirely agreeing in the
main points, convinced me of your identity.  I know now that chance has
brought before me M. Pierre Aronnax, Professor of Natural History at
the Museum of Paris, entrusted with a scientific mission abroad,
Conseil, his servant, and Ned Land, of Canadian origin, harpooner on
board the frigate Abraham Lincoln of the navy of the United States of
America."

I bowed assent.  It was not a question that the commander put to me.
Therefore there was no answer to be made.  This man expressed himself
with perfect ease, without any accent.  His sentences were well turned,
his words clear, and his fluency of speech remarkable.  Yet, I did not
recognise in him a fellow-countryman.

He continued the conversation in these terms:

"You have doubtless thought, sir, that I have delayed long in paying
you this second visit.  The reason is that, your identity recognised, I
wished to weigh maturely what part to act towards you.  I have
hesitated much.  Most annoying circumstances have brought you into the
presence of a man who has broken all the ties of humanity.  You have
come to trouble my existence."

"Unintentionally!" said I.

"Unintentionally?" replied the stranger, raising his voice a little.
"Was it unintentionally that the Abraham Lincoln pursued me all over
the seas?  Was it unintentionally that you took passage in this
frigate?  Was it unintentionally that your cannon-balls rebounded off
the plating of my vessel?  Was it unintentionally that Mr. Ned Land
struck me with his harpoon?"

I detected a restrained irritation in these words.  But to these
recriminations I had a very natural answer to make, and I made it.

"Sir," said I, "no doubt you are ignorant of the discussions which have
taken place concerning you in America and Europe.  You do not know that
divers accidents, caused by collisions with your submarine machine,
have excited public feeling in the two continents.  I omit the theories
without number by which it was sought to explain that of which you
alone possess the secret.  But you must understand that, in pursuing
you over the high seas of the Pacific, the Abraham Lincoln believed
itself to be chasing some powerful sea-monster, of which it was
necessary to rid the ocean at any price."

A half-smile curled the lips of the commander:  then, in a calmer tone:

"M. Aronnax," he replied, "dare you affirm that your frigate would not
as soon have pursued and cannonaded a submarine boat as a monster?"

This question embarrassed me, for certainly Captain Farragut might not
have hesitated.  He might have thought it his duty to destroy a
contrivance of this kind, as he would a gigantic narwhal.

"You understand then, sir," continued the stranger, "that I have the
right to treat you as enemies?"

I answered nothing, purposely.  For what good would it be to discuss
such a proposition, when force could destroy the best arguments?

"I have hesitated some time," continued the commander; "nothing obliged
me to show you hospitality.  If I chose to separate myself from you, I
should have no interest in seeing you again; I could place you upon the
deck of this vessel which has served you as a refuge, I could sink
beneath the waters, and forget that you had ever existed.  Would not
that be my right?"

"It might be the right of a savage," I answered, "but not that of a
civilised man."

"Professor," replied the commander, quickly, "I am not what you call a
civilised man!  I have done with society entirely, for reasons which I
alone have the right of appreciating.  I do not, therefore, obey its
laws, and I desire you never to allude to them before me again!"

This was said plainly.  A flash of anger and disdain kindled in the
eyes of the Unknown, and I had a glimpse of a terrible past in the life
of this man.  Not only had he put himself beyond the pale of human
laws, but he had made himself independent of them, free in the
strictest acceptation of the word, quite beyond their reach!  Who then
would dare to pursue him at the bottom of the sea, when, on its
surface, he defied all attempts made against him?

What vessel could resist the shock of his submarine monitor?  What
cuirass, however thick, could withstand the blows of his spur?  No man
could demand from him an account of his actions; God, if he believed in
one--his conscience, if he had one--were the sole judges to whom he was
answerable.

These reflections crossed my mind rapidly, whilst the stranger
personage was silent, absorbed, and as if wrapped up in himself.  I
regarded him with fear mingled with interest, as, doubtless, OEdiphus
regarded the Sphinx.

After rather a long silence, the commander resumed the conversation.

"I have hesitated," said he, "but I have thought that my interest might
be reconciled with that pity to which every human being has a right.
You will remain on board my vessel, since fate has cast you there.  You
will be free; and, in exchange for this liberty, I shall only impose
one single condition.  Your word of honour to submit to it will
suffice."

"Speak, sir," I answered.  "I suppose this condition is one which a man
of honour may accept?"

"Yes, sir; it is this:  It is possible that certain events, unforeseen,
may oblige me to consign you to your cabins for some hours or some
days, as the case may be.  As I desire never to use violence, I expect
from you, more than all the others, a passive obedience.  In thus
acting, I take all the responsibility:  I acquit you entirely, for I
make it an impossibility for you to see what ought not to be seen.  Do
you accept this condition?"

Then things took place on board which, to say the least, were singular,
and which ought not to be seen by people who were not placed beyond the
pale of social laws.  Amongst the surprises which the future was
preparing for me, this might not be the least.

"We accept," I answered; "only I will ask your permission, sir, to
address one question to you--one only."

"Speak, sir."

"You said that we should be free on board."

"Entirely."

"I ask you, then, what you mean by this liberty?"

"Just the liberty to go, to come, to see, to observe even all that
passes here save under rare circumstances--the liberty, in short, which
we enjoy ourselves, my companions and I."

It was evident that we did not understand one another.

"Pardon me, sir," I resumed, "but this liberty is only what every
prisoner has of pacing his prison.  It cannot suffice us."

"It must suffice you, however."

"What! we must renounce for ever seeing our country, our friends, our
relations again?"

"Yes, sir.  But to renounce that unendurable worldly yoke which men
believe to be liberty is not perhaps so painful as you think."

"Well," exclaimed Ned Land, "never will I give my word of honour not to
try to escape."

"I did not ask you for your word of honour, Master Land," answered the
commander, coldly.

"Sir," I replied, beginning to get angry in spite of my self, "you
abuse your situation towards us; it is cruelty."

"No, sir, it is clemency.  You are my prisoners of war.  I keep you,
when I could, by a word, plunge you into the depths of the ocean.  You
attacked me.  You came to surprise a secret which no man in the world
must penetrate--the secret of my whole existence.  And you think that I
am going to send you back to that world which must know me no more?
Never!  In retaining you, it is not you whom I guard--it is myself."

These words indicated a resolution taken on the part of the commander,
against which no arguments would prevail.

"So, sir," I rejoined, "you give us simply the choice between life and
death?"

"Simply."

"My friends," said I, "to a question thus put, there is nothing to
answer.  But no word of honour binds us to the master of this vessel."

"None, sir," answered the Unknown.

Then, in a gentler tone, he continued:

"Now, permit me to finish what I have to say to you.  I know you, M.
Aronnax.  You and your companions will not, perhaps, have so much to
complain of in the chance which has bound you to my fate.  You will
find amongst the books which are my favourite study the work which you
have published on `the depths of the sea.'  I have often read it.  You
have carried out your work as far as terrestrial science permitted you.
But you do not know all--you have not seen all.  Let me tell you then,
Professor, that you will not regret the time passed on board my vessel.
You are going to visit the land of marvels."

These words of the commander had a great effect upon me.  I cannot deny
it.  My weak point was touched; and I forgot, for a moment, that the
contemplation of these sublime subjects was not worth the loss of
liberty.  Besides, I trusted to the future to decide this grave
question.  So I contented myself with saying:

"By what name ought I to address you?"

"Sir," replied the commander, "I am nothing to you but Captain Nemo;
and you and your companions are nothing to me but the passengers of the
Nautilus."

Captain Nemo called.  A steward appeared.  The captain gave him his
orders in that strange language which I did not understand.  Then,
turning towards the Canadian and Conseil:

"A repast awaits you in your cabin," said he.  "Be so good as to follow
this man.

"And now, M. Aronnax, our breakfast is ready.  Permit me to lead the
way."

"I am at your service, Captain."

I followed Captain Nemo; and as soon as I had passed through the door,
I found myself in a kind of passage lighted by electricity, similar to
the waist of a ship.  After we had proceeded a dozen yards, a second
door opened before me.

I then entered a dining-room, decorated and furnished in severe taste.
High oaken sideboards, inlaid with ebony, stood at the two extremities
of the room, and upon their shelves glittered china, porcelain, and
glass of inestimable value.  The plate on the table sparkled in the
rays which the luminous ceiling shed around, while the light was
tempered and softened by exquisite paintings.

In the centre of the room was a table richly laid out.  Captain Nemo
indicated the place I was to occupy.

The breakfast consisted of a certain number of dishes, the contents of
which were furnished by the sea alone; and I was ignorant of the nature
and mode of preparation of some of them.  I acknowledged that they were
good, but they had a peculiar flavour, which I easily became accustomed
to.  These different aliments appeared to me to be rich in phosphorus,
and I thought they must have a marine origin.

Captain Nemo looked at me.  I asked him no questions, but he guessed my
thoughts, and answered of his own accord the questions which I was
burning to address to him.

"The greater part of these dishes are unknown to you," he said to me.
"However, you may partake of them without fear.  They are wholesome and
nourishing.  For a long time I have renounced the food of the earth,
and I am never ill now.  My crew, who are healthy, are fed on the same
food."

"So," said I, "all these eatables are the produce of the sea?"

"Yes, Professor, the sea supplies all my wants.  Sometimes I cast my
nets in tow, and I draw them in ready to break.  Sometimes I hunt in
the midst of this element, which appears to be inaccessible to man, and
quarry the game which dwells in my submarine forests.  My flocks, like
those of Neptune's old shepherds, graze fearlessly in the immense
prairies of the ocean.  I have a vast property there, which I cultivate
myself, and which is always sown by the hand of the Creator of all
things."

"I can understand perfectly, sir, that your nets furnish excellent fish
for your table; I can understand also that you hunt aquatic game in
your submarine forests; but I cannot understand at all how a particle
of meat, no matter how small, can figure in your bill of fare."

"This, which you believe to be meat, Professor, is nothing else than
fillet of turtle.  Here are also some dolphins' livers, which you take
to be ragout of pork.  My cook is a clever fellow, who excels in
dressing these various products of the ocean.  Taste all these dishes.
Here is a preserve of sea-cucumber, which a Malay would declare to be
unrivalled in the world; here is a cream, of which the milk has been
furnished by the cetacea, and the sugar by the great fucus of the North
Sea; and, lastly, permit me to offer you some preserve of anemones,
which is equal to that of the most delicious fruits."

I tasted, more from curiosity than as a connoisseur, whilst Captain
Nemo enchanted me with his extraordinary stories.

"You like the sea, Captain?"

"Yes; I love it!  The sea is everything.  It covers seven tenths of the
terrestrial globe.  Its breath is pure and healthy.  It is an immense
desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all
sides.  The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful
existence.  It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the `Living
Infinite,' as one of your poets has said.  In fact, Professor, Nature
manifests herself in it by her three kingdoms--mineral, vegetable, and
animal.  The sea is the vast reservoir of Nature.  The globe began with
sea, so to speak; and who knows if it will not end with it?  In it is
supreme tranquillity.  The sea does not belong to despots.  Upon its
surface men can still exercise unjust laws, fight, tear one another to
pieces, and be carried away with terrestrial horrors.  But at thirty
feet below its level, their reign ceases, their influence is quenched,
and their power disappears.  Ah! sir, live--live in the bosom of the
waters!  There only is independence!  There I recognise no masters!
There I am free!"

Captain Nemo suddenly became silent in the midst of this enthusiasm, by
which he was quite carried away.  For a few moments he paced up and
down, much agitated.  Then he became more calm, regained his accustomed
coldness of expression, and turning towards me:

"Now, Professor," said he, "if you wish to go over the Nautilus, I am
at your service."

Captain Nemo rose.  I followed him.  A double door, contrived at the
back of the dining-room, opened, and I entered a room equal in
dimensions to that which I had just quitted.

It was a library.  High pieces of furniture, of black violet ebony
inlaid with brass, supported upon their wide shelves a great number of
books uniformly bound.  They followed the shape of the room,
terminating at the lower part in huge divans, covered with brown
leather, which were curved, to afford the greatest comfort.  Light
movable desks, made to slide in and out at will, allowed one to rest
one's book while reading.  In the centre stood an immense table,
covered with pamphlets, amongst which were some newspapers, already of
old date.  The electric light flooded everything; it was shed from four
unpolished globes half sunk in the volutes of the ceiling.  I looked
with real admiration at this room, so ingeniously fitted up, and I
could scarcely believe my eyes.

"Captain Nemo," said I to my host, who had just thrown himself on one
of the divans, "this is a library which would do honour to more than
one of the continental palaces, and I am absolutely astounded when I
consider that it can follow you to the bottom of the seas."

"Where could one find greater solitude or silence, Professor?" replied
Captain Nemo.  "Did your study in the Museum afford you such perfect
quiet?"

"No, sir; and I must confess that it is a very poor one after yours.
You must have six or seven thousand volumes here."

"Twelve thousand, M. Aronnax.  These are the only ties which bind me to
the earth.  But I had done with the world on the day when my Nautilus
plunged for the first time beneath the waters.  That day I bought my
last volumes, my last pamphlets, my last papers, and from that time I
wish to think that men no longer think or write.  These books,
Professor, are at your service besides, and you can make use of them
freely."

I thanked Captain Nemo, and went up to the shelves of the library.
Works on science, morals, and literature abounded in every language;
but I did not see one single work on political economy; that subject
appeared to be strictly proscribed.  Strange to say, all these books
were irregularly arranged, in whatever language they were written; and
this medley proved that the Captain of the Nautilus must have read
indiscriminately the books which he took up by chance.

"Sir," said I to the Captain, "I thank you for having placed this
library at my disposal.  It contains treasures of science, and I shall
profit by them."

"This room is not only a library," said Captain Nemo, "it is also a
smoking-room."

"A smoking-room!" I cried.  "Then one may smoke on board?"

"Certainly."

"Then, sir, I am forced to believe that you have kept up a
communication with Havannah."

"Not any," answered the Captain.  "Accept this cigar, M. Aronnax; and,
though it does not come from Havannah, you will be pleased with it, if
you are a connoisseur."

I took the cigar which was offered me; its shape recalled the London
ones, but it seemed to be made of leaves of gold.  I lighted it at a
little brazier, which was supported upon an elegant bronze stem, and
drew the first whiffs with the delight of a lover of smoking who has
not smoked for two days.

"It is excellent, but it is not tobacco."

"No!" answered the Captain, "this tobacco comes neither from Havannah
nor from the East.  It is a kind of sea-weed, rich in nicotine, with
which the sea provides me, but somewhat sparingly."

At that moment Captain Nemo opened a door which stood opposite to that
by which I had entered the library, and I passed into an immense
drawing-room splendidly lighted.

It was a vast, four-sided room, thirty feet long, eighteen wide, and
fifteen high.  A luminous ceiling, decorated with light arabesques,
shed a soft clear light over all the marvels accumulated in this
museum.  For it was in fact a museum, in which an intelligent and
prodigal hand had gathered all the treasures of nature and art, with
the artistic confusion which distinguishes a painter's studio.

Thirty first-rate pictures, uniformly framed, separated by bright
drapery, ornamented the walls, which were hung with tapestry of severe
design. I saw works of great value, the greater part of which I had
admired in the special collections of Europe, and in the exhibitions of
paintings. The several schools of the old masters were represented by a
Madonna of Raphael, a Virgin of Leonardo da Vinci, a nymph of Corregio,
a woman of Titan, an Adoration of Veronese, an Assumption of Murillo, a
portrait of Holbein, a monk of Velasquez, a martyr of Ribera, a fair of
Rubens, two Flemish landscapes of Teniers, three little "genre"
pictures of Gerard Dow, Metsu, and Paul Potter, two specimens of
Gericault and Prudhon, and some sea-pieces of Backhuysen and Vernet.
Amongst the works of modern painters were pictures with the signatures
of Delacroix, Ingres, Decamps, Troyon, Meissonier, Daubigny, etc.; and
some admirable statues in marble and bronze, after the finest antique
models, stood upon pedestals in the corners of this magnificent museum.
Amazement, as the Captain of the Nautilus had predicted, had already
begun to take possession of me.

"Professor," said this strange man, "you must excuse the unceremonious
way in which I receive you, and the disorder of this room."

"Sir," I answered, "without seeking to know who you are, I recognise in
you an artist."

"An amateur, nothing more, sir.  Formerly I loved to collect these
beautiful works created by the hand of man.  I sought them greedily,
and ferreted them out indefatigably, and I have been able to bring
together some objects of great value.  These are my last souvenirs of
that world which is dead to me.  In my eyes, your modern artists are
already old; they have two or three thousand years of existence; I
confound them in my own mind.  Masters have no age."

"And these musicians?" said I, pointing out some works of Weber,
Rossini, Mozart, Beethoven, Haydn, Meyerbeer, Herold, Wagner, Auber,
Gounod, and a number of others, scattered over a large model
piano-organ which occupied one of the panels of the drawing-room.

"These musicians," replied Captain Nemo, "are the contemporaries of
Orpheus; for in the memory of the dead all chronological differences
are effaced; and I am dead, Professor; as much dead as those of your
friends who are sleeping six feet under the earth!"

Captain Nemo was silent, and seemed lost in a profound reverie. I
contemplated him with deep interest, analysing in silence the strange
expression of his countenance. Leaning on his elbow against an angle of
a costly mosaic table, he no longer saw me,--he had forgotten my
presence.

I did not disturb this reverie, and continued my observation of the
curiosities which enriched this drawing-room.

Under elegant glass cases, fixed by copper rivets, were classed and
labelled the most precious productions of the sea which had ever been
presented to the eye of a naturalist.  My delight as a professor may be
conceived.

The division containing the zoophytes presented the most curious
specimens of the two groups of polypi and echinodermes. In the first
group, the tubipores, were gorgones arranged like a fan, soft sponges
of Syria, ises of the Moluccas, pennatules, an admirable virgularia of
the Norwegian seas, variegated unbellulairae, alcyonariae, a whole
series of madrepores, which my master Milne Edwards has so cleverly
classified, amongst which I remarked some wonderful flabellinae
oculinae of the Island of Bourbon, the "Neptune's car" of the Antilles,
superb varieties of corals--in short, every species of those curious
polypi of which entire islands are formed, which will one day become
continents. Of the echinodermes, remarkable for their coating of
spines, asteri, sea-stars, pantacrinae, comatules, asterophons, echini,
holothuri, etc., represented individually a complete collection of this
group.

A somewhat nervous conchyliologist would certainly have fainted before
other more numerous cases, in which were classified the specimens of
molluscs. It was a collection of inestimable value, which time fails me
to describe minutely. Amongst these specimens I will quote from memory
only the elegant royal hammer-fish of the Indian Ocean, whose regular
white spots stood out brightly on a red and brown ground, an imperial
spondyle, bright-coloured, bristling with spines, a rare specimen in
the European museums--(I estimated its value at not less than L1000); a
common hammer-fish of the seas of New Holland, which is only procured
with difficulty; exotic buccardia of Senegal; fragile white bivalve
shells, which a breath might shatter like a soap-bubble; several
varieties of the aspirgillum of Java, a kind of calcareous tube, edged
with leafy folds, and much debated by amateurs; a whole series of
trochi, some a greenish-yellow, found in the American seas, others a
reddish-brown, natives of Australian waters; others from the Gulf of
Mexico, remarkable for their imbricated shell; stellari found in the
Southern Seas; and last, the rarest of all, the magnificent spur of New
Zealand; and every description of delicate and fragile shells to which
science has given appropriate names.

Apart, in separate compartments, were spread out chaplets of pearls of
the greatest beauty, which reflected the electric light in little
sparks of fire; pink pearls, torn from the pinna-marina of the Red Sea;
green pearls of the haliotyde iris; yellow, blue and black pearls, the
curious productions of the divers molluscs of every ocean, and certain
mussels of the water-courses of the North; lastly, several specimens of
inestimable value which had been gathered from the rarest pintadines.
Some of these pearls were larger than a pigeon's egg, and were worth as
much, and more than that which the traveller Tavernier sold to the Shah
of Persia for three millions, and surpassed the one in the possession
of the Imaum of Muscat, which I had believed to be unrivalled in the
world.

Therefore, to estimate the value of this collection was simply
impossible.  Captain Nemo must have expended millions in the
acquirement of these various specimens, and I was thinking what source
he could have drawn from, to have been able thus to gratify his fancy
for collecting, when I was interrupted by these words:

"You are examining my shells, Professor?  Unquestionably they must be
interesting to a naturalist; but for me they have a far greater charm,
for I have collected them all with my own hand, and there is not a sea
on the face of the globe which has escaped my researches."

"I can understand, Captain, the delight of wandering about in the midst
of such riches.  You are one of those who have collected their
treasures themselves.  No museum in Europe possesses such a collection
of the produce of the ocean.  But if I exhaust all my admiration upon
it, I shall have none left for the vessel which carries it.  I do not
wish to pry into your secrets:  but I must confess that this Nautilus,
with the motive power which is confined in it, the contrivances which
enable it to be worked, the powerful agent which propels it, all excite
my curiosity to the highest pitch.  I see suspended on the walls of
this room instruments of whose use I am ignorant."

"You will find these same instruments in my own room, Professor, where
I shall have much pleasure in explaining their use to you.  But first
come and inspect the cabin which is set apart for your own use.  You
must see how you will be accommodated on board the Nautilus."

I followed Captain Nemo who, by one of the doors opening from each
panel of the drawing-room, regained the waist.  He conducted me towards
the bow, and there I found, not a cabin, but an elegant room, with a
bed, dressing-table, and several other pieces of excellent furniture.

I could only thank my host.

"Your room adjoins mine," said he, opening a door, "and mine opens into
the drawing-room that we have just quitted."

I entered the Captain's room:  it had a severe, almost a monkish
aspect.  A small iron bedstead, a table, some articles for the toilet;
the whole lighted by a skylight.  No comforts, the strictest
necessaries only.

Captain Nemo pointed to a seat.

"Be so good as to sit down," he said.  I seated myself, and he began
thus:



CHAPTER XI

ALL BY ELECTRICITY

"Sir," said Captain Nemo, showing me the instruments hanging on the
walls of his room, "here are the contrivances required for the
navigation of the Nautilus.  Here, as in the drawing-room, I have them
always under my eyes, and they indicate my position and exact direction
in the middle of the ocean.  Some are known to you, such as the
thermometer, which gives the internal temperature of the Nautilus; the
barometer, which indicates the weight of the air and foretells the
changes of the weather; the hygrometer, which marks the dryness of the
atmosphere; the storm-glass, the contents of which, by decomposing,
announce the approach of tempests; the compass, which guides my course;
the sextant, which shows the latitude by the altitude of the sun;
chronometers, by which I calculate the longitude; and glasses for day
and night, which I use to examine the points of the horizon, when the
Nautilus rises to the surface of the waves."

"These are the usual nautical instruments," I replied, "and I know the
use of them.  But these others, no doubt, answer to the particular
requirements of the Nautilus.  This dial with movable needle is a
manometer, is it not?"

"It is actually a manometer.  But by communication with the water,
whose external pressure it indicates, it gives our depth at the same
time."

"And these other instruments, the use of which I cannot guess?"

"Here, Professor, I ought to give you some explanations.  Will you be
kind enough to listen to me?"

He was silent for a few moments, then he said:

"There is a powerful agent, obedient, rapid, easy, which conforms to
every use, and reigns supreme on board my vessel.  Everything is done
by means of it.  It lights, warms it, and is the soul of my mechanical
apparatus.  This agent is electricity."

"Electricity?"  I cried in surprise.

"Yes, sir."

"Nevertheless, Captain, you possess an extreme rapidity of movement,
which does not agree well with the power of electricity.  Until now,
its dynamic force has remained under restraint, and has only been able
to produce a small amount of power."

"Professor," said Captain Nemo, "my electricity is not everybody's.
You know what sea-water is composed of.  In a thousand grammes are
found 96 1/2 per cent. of water, and about 2 2/3 per cent.  of chloride
of sodium; then, in a smaller quantity, chlorides of magnesium and of
potassium, bromide of magnesium, sulphate of magnesia, sulphate and
carbonate of lime.  You see, then, that chloride of sodium forms a
large part of it.  So it is this sodium that I extract from the
sea-water, and of which I compose my ingredients.  I owe all to the
ocean; it produces electricity, and electricity gives heat, light,
motion, and, in a word, life to the Nautilus."

"But not the air you breathe?"

"Oh!  I could manufacture the air necessary for my consumption, but it
is useless, because I go up to the surface of the water when I please.
However, if electricity does not furnish me with air to breathe, it
works at least the powerful pumps that are stored in spacious
reservoirs, and which enable me to prolong at need, and as long as I
will, my stay in the depths of the sea.  It gives a uniform and
unintermittent light, which the sun does not.  Now look at this clock;
it is electrical, and goes with a regularity that defies the best
chronometers.  I have divided it into twenty-four hours, like the
Italian clocks, because for me there is neither night nor day, sun nor
moon, but only that factitious light that I take with me to the bottom
of the sea.  Look! just now, it is ten o'clock in the morning."

"Exactly."

"Another application of electricity.  This dial hanging in front of us
indicates the speed of the Nautilus.  An electric thread puts it in
communication with the screw, and the needle indicates the real speed.
Look! now we are spinning along with a uniform speed of fifteen miles
an hour."

"It is marvelous!  And I see, Captain, you were right to make use of
this agent that takes the place of wind, water, and steam."

"We have not finished, M. Aronnax," said Captain Nemo, rising.  "If you
will allow me, we will examine the stern of the Nautilus."

Really, I knew already the anterior part of this submarine boat, of
which this is the exact division, starting from the ship's head: the
dining-room, five yards long, separated from the library by a
water-tight partition; the library, five yards long; the large
drawing-room, ten yards long, separated from the Captain's room by a
second water-tight partition; the said room, five yards in length;
mine, two and a half yards; and, lastly a reservoir of air, seven and a
half yards, that extended to the bows.  Total length thirty five yards,
or one hundred and five feet.  The partitions had doors that were shut
hermetically by means of india-rubber instruments, and they ensured the
safety of the Nautilus in case of a leak.

I followed Captain Nemo through the waist, and arrived at the centre of
the boat.  There was a sort of well that opened between two partitions.
An iron ladder, fastened with an iron hook to the partition, led to the
upper end.  I asked the Captain what the ladder was used for.

"It leads to the small boat," he said.

"What! have you a boat?"  I exclaimed, in surprise.

"Of course; an excellent vessel, light and insubmersible, that serves
either as a fishing or as a pleasure boat."

"But then, when you wish to embark, you are obliged to come to the
surface of the water?"

"Not at all.  This boat is attached to the upper part of the hull of
the Nautilus, and occupies a cavity made for it.  It is decked, quite
water-tight, and held together by solid bolts.  This ladder leads to a
man-hole made in the hull of the Nautilus, that corresponds with a
similar hole made in the side of the boat.  By this double opening I
get into the small vessel.  They shut the one belonging to the
Nautilus; I shut the other by means of screw pressure.  I undo the
bolts, and the little boat goes up to the surface of the sea with
prodigious rapidity.  I then open the panel of the bridge, carefully
shut till then; I mast it, hoist my sail, take my oars, and I'm off."

"But how do you get back on board?"

"I do not come back, M. Aronnax; the Nautilus comes to me."

"By your orders?"

"By my orders.  An electric thread connects us.  I telegraph to it, and
that is enough."

"Really," I said, astonished at these marvels, "nothing can be more
simple."

After having passed by the cage of the staircase that led to the
platform, I saw a cabin six feet long, in which Conseil and Ned Land,
enchanted with their repast, were devouring it with avidity.  Then a
door opened into a kitchen nine feet long, situated between the large
store-rooms. There electricity, better than gas itself, did all the
cooking.  The streams under the furnaces gave out to the sponges of
platina a heat which was regularly kept up and distributed.  They also
heated a distilling apparatus, which, by evaporation, furnished
excellent drinkable water.  Near this kitchen was a bathroom
comfortably furnished, with hot and cold water taps.

Next to the kitchen was the berth-room of the vessel, sixteen feet
long.  But the door was shut, and I could not see the management of it,
which might have given me an idea of the number of men employed on
board the Nautilus.

At the bottom was a fourth partition that separated this office from
the engine-room. A door opened, and I found myself in the compartment
where Captain Nemo--certainly an engineer of a very high order--had
arranged his locomotive machinery.  This engine-room, clearly lighted,
did not measure less than sixty-five feet in length.  It was divided
into two parts; the first contained the materials for producing
electricity, and the second the machinery that connected it with the
screw.  I examined it with great interest, in order to understand the
machinery of the Nautilus.

"You see," said the Captain, "I use Bunsen's contrivances, not
Ruhmkorff's. Those would not have been powerful enough.  Bunsen's are
fewer in number, but strong and large, which experience proves to be
the best.  The electricity produced passes forward, where it works, by
electro-magnets of great size, on a system of levers and cog-wheels
that transmit the movement to the axle of the screw.  This one, the
diameter of which is nineteen feet, and the thread twenty-three feet,
performs about 120 revolutions in a second."

"And you get then?"

"A speed of fifty miles an hour."

"I have seen the Nautilus manoeuvre before the Abraham Lincoln, and I
have my own ideas as to its speed.  But this is not enough.  We must
see where we go.  We must be able to direct it to the right, to the
left, above, below.  How do you get to the great depths, where you find
an increasing resistance, which is rated by hundreds of atmospheres?
How do you return to the surface of the ocean?  And how do you maintain
yourselves in the requisite medium?  Am I asking too much?"

"Not at all, Professor," replied the Captain, with some hesitation;
"since you may never leave this submarine boat.  Come into the saloon,
it is our usual study, and there you will learn all you want to know
about the Nautilus."



CHAPTER XII

SOME FIGURES

A moment after we were seated on a divan in the saloon smoking.  The
Captain showed me a sketch that gave the plan, section, and elevation
of the Nautilus.  Then he began his description in these words:

"Here, M. Aronnax, are the several dimensions of the boat you are in.
It is an elongated cylinder with conical ends.  It is very like a cigar
in shape, a shape already adopted in London in several constructions of
the same sort.  The length of this cylinder, from stem to stern, is
exactly 232 feet, and its maximum breadth is twenty-six feet.  It is
not built quite like your long-voyage steamers, but its lines are
sufficiently long, and its curves prolonged enough, to allow the water
to slide off easily, and oppose no obstacle to its passage.  These two
dimensions enable you to obtain by a simple calculation the surface and
cubic contents of the Nautilus.  Its area measures 6,032 feet; and its
contents about 1,500 cubic yards; that is to say, when completely
immersed it displaces 50,000 feet of water, or weighs 1,500 tons.

"When I made the plans for this submarine vessel, I meant that
nine-tenths should be submerged:  consequently it ought only to
displace nine-tenths of its bulk, that is to say, only to weigh that
number of tons.  I ought not, therefore, to have exceeded that weight,
constructing it on the aforesaid dimensions.

"The Nautilus is composed of two hulls, one inside, the other outside,
joined by T-shaped irons, which render it very strong.  Indeed, owing
to this cellular arrangement it resists like a block, as if it were
solid.  Its sides cannot yield; it coheres spontaneously, and not by
the closeness of its rivets; and its perfect union of the materials
enables it to defy the roughest seas.

"These two hulls are composed of steel plates, whose density is from .7
to .8 that of water.  The first is not less than two inches and a half
thick and weighs 394 tons.  The second envelope, the keel, twenty
inches high and ten thick, weighs only sixty-two tons.  The engine, the
ballast, the several accessories and apparatus appendages, the
partitions and bulkheads, weigh 961.62 tons.  Do you follow all this?"

"I do."

"Then, when the Nautilus is afloat under these circumstances, one-tenth
is out of the water.  Now, if I have made reservoirs of a size equal to
this tenth, or capable of holding 150 tons, and if I fill them with
water, the boat, weighing then 1,507 tons, will be completely immersed.
That would happen, Professor.  These reservoirs are in the lower part
of the Nautilus.  I turn on taps and they fill, and the vessel sinks
that had just been level with the surface."

"Well, Captain, but now we come to the real difficulty.  I can
understand your rising to the surface; but, diving below the surface,
does not your submarine contrivance encounter a pressure, and
consequently undergo an upward thrust of one atmosphere for every
thirty feet of water, just about fifteen pounds per square inch?"

"Just so, sir."

"Then, unless you quite fill the Nautilus, I do not see how you can
draw it down to those depths."

"Professor, you must not confound statics with dynamics or you will be
exposed to grave errors.  There is very little labour spent in
attaining the lower regions of the ocean, for all bodies have a
tendency to sink.  When I wanted to find out the necessary increase of
weight required to sink the Nautilus, I had only to calculate the
reduction of volume that sea-water acquires according to the depth."

"That is evident."

"Now, if water is not absolutely incompressible, it is at least capable
of very slight compression.  Indeed, after the most recent calculations
this reduction is only .000436 of an atmosphere for each thirty feet of
depth.  If we want to sink 3,000 feet, I should keep account of the
reduction of bulk under a pressure equal to that of a column of water
of a thousand feet.  The calculation is easily verified.  Now, I have
supplementary reservoirs capable of holding a hundred tons.  Therefore
I can sink to a considerable depth.  When I wish to rise to the level
of the sea, I only let off the water, and empty all the reservoirs if I
want the Nautilus to emerge from the tenth part of her total capacity."

I had nothing to object to these reasonings.

"I admit your calculations, Captain," I replied; "I should be wrong to
dispute them since daily experience confirms them; but I foresee a real
difficulty in the way."

"What, sir?"

"When you are about 1,000 feet deep, the walls of the Nautilus bear a
pressure of 100 atmospheres.  If, then, just now you were to empty the
supplementary reservoirs, to lighten the vessel, and to go up to the
surface, the pumps must overcome the pressure of 100 atmospheres, which
is 1,500 lbs.  per square inch.  From that a power----"

"That electricity alone can give," said the Captain, hastily.  "I
repeat, sir, that the dynamic power of my engines is almost infinite.
The pumps of the Nautilus have an enormous power, as you must have
observed when their jets of water burst like a torrent upon the Abraham
Lincoln.  Besides, I use subsidiary reservoirs only to attain a mean
depth of 750 to 1,000 fathoms, and that with a view of managing my
machines.  Also, when I have a mind to visit the depths of the ocean
five or six mlles below the surface, I make use of slower but not less
infallible means."

"What are they, Captain?"

"That involves my telling you how the Nautilus is worked."

"I am impatient to learn."

"To steer this boat to starboard or port, to turn, in a word, following
a horizontal plan, I use an ordinary rudder fixed on the back of the
stern-post, and with one wheel and some tackle to steer by.  But I can
also make the Nautilus rise and sink, and sink and rise, by a vertical
movement by means of two inclined planes fastened to its sides,
opposite the centre of flotation, planes that move in every direction,
and that are worked by powerful levers from the interior.  If the
planes are kept parallel with the boat, it moves horizontally.  If
slanted, the Nautilus, according to this inclination, and under the
influence of the screw, either sinks diagonally or rises diagonally as
it suits me.  And even if I wish to rise more quickly to the surface, I
ship the screw, and the pressure of the water causes the Nautilus to
rise vertically like a balloon filled with hydrogen."

"Bravo, Captain!  But how can the steersman follow the route in the
middle of the waters?"

"The steersman is placed in a glazed box, that is raised about the hull
of the Nautilus, and furnished with lenses."

"Are these lenses capable of resisting such pressure?"

"Perfectly.  Glass, which breaks at a blow, is, nevertheless, capable
of offering considerable resistance.  During some experiments of
fishing by electric light in 1864 in the Northern Seas, we saw plates
less than a third of an inch thick resist a pressure of sixteen
atmospheres.  Now, the glass that I use is not less than thirty times
thicker."

"Granted.  But, after all, in order to see, the light must exceed the
darkness, and in the midst of the darkness in the water, how can you
see?"

"Behind the steersman's cage is placed a powerful electric reflector,
the rays from which light up the sea for half a mile in front."

"Ah! bravo, bravo, Captain!  Now I can account for this phosphorescence
in the supposed narwhal that puzzled us so.  I now ask you if the
boarding of the Nautilus and of the Scotia, that has made such a noise,
has been the result of a chance rencontre?"

"Quite accidental, sir.  I was sailing only one fathom below the
surface of the water when the shock came.  It had no bad result."

"None, sir.  But now, about your rencontre with the Abraham Lincoln?"

"Professor, I am sorry for one of the best vessels in the American
navy; but they attacked me, and I was bound to defend myself.  I
contented myself, however, with putting the frigate hors de combat; she
will not have any difficulty in getting repaired at the next port."

"Ah, Commander! your Nautilus is certainly a marvellous boat."

"Yes, Professor; and I love it as if it were part of myself.  If danger
threatens one of your vessels on the ocean, the first impression is the
feeling of an abyss above and below.  On the Nautilus men's hearts
never fail them.  No defects to be afraid of, for the double shell is
as firm as iron; no rigging to attend to; no sails for the wind to
carry away; no boilers to burst; no fire to fear, for the vessel is
made of iron, not of wood; no coal to run short, for electricity is the
only mechanical agent; no collision to fear, for it alone swims in deep
water; no tempest to brave, for when it dives below the water it
reaches absolute tranquillity.  There, sir! that is the perfection of
vessels!  And if it is true that the engineer has more confidence in
the vessel than the builder, and the builder than the captain himself,
you understand the trust I repose in my Nautilus; for I am at once
captain, builder, and engineer."

"But how could you construct this wonderful Nautilus in secret?"

"Each separate portion, M. Aronnax, was brought from different parts of
the globe."

"But these parts had to be put together and arranged?"

"Professor, I had set up my workshops upon a desert island in the
ocean.  There my workmen, that is to say, the brave men that I
instructed and educated, and myself have put together our Nautilus.
Then, when the work was finished, fire destroyed all trace of our
proceedings on this island, that I could have jumped over if I had
liked."

"Then the cost of this vessel is great?"

"M. Aronnax, an iron vessel costs L145 per ton.  Now the Nautilus
weighed 1,500. It came therefore to L67,500, and L80,000 more for
fitting it up, and about L200,000, with the works of art and the
collections it contains."

"One last question, Captain Nemo."

"Ask it, Professor."

"You are rich?"

"Immensely rich, sir; and I could, without missing it, pay the national
debt of France."

I stared at the singular person who spoke thus.  Was he playing upon my
credulity?  The future would decide that.



CHAPTER XIII

THE BLACK RIVER

The portion of the terrestrial globe which is covered by water is
estimated at upwards of eighty millions of acres.  This fluid mass
comprises two billions two hundred and fifty millions of cubic miles,
forming a spherical body of a diameter of sixty leagues, the weight of
which would be three quintillions of tons.  To comprehend the meaning
of these figures, it is necessary to observe that a quintillion is to a
billion as a billion is to unity; in other words, there are as many
billions in a quintillion as there are units in a billion.  This mass
of fluid is equal to about the quantity of water which would be
discharged by all the rivers of the earth in forty thousand years.

During the geological epochs the ocean originally prevailed everywhere.
Then by degrees, in the silurian period, the tops of the mountains
began to appear, the islands emerged, then disappeared in partial
deluges, reappeared, became settled, formed continents, till at length
the earth became geographically arranged, as we see in the present day.
The solid had wrested from the liquid thirty-seven million six hundred
and fifty-seven square miles, equal to twelve billions nine hundred and
sixty millions of acres.

The shape of continents allows us to divide the waters into five great
portions:  the Arctic or Frozen Ocean, the Antarctic, or Frozen Ocean,
the Indian, the Atlantic, and the Pacific Oceans.

The Pacific Ocean extends from north to south between the two Polar
Circles, and from east to west between Asia and America, over an extent
of 145 degrees of longitude.  It is the quietest of seas; its currents
are broad and slow, it has medium tides, and abundant rain.  Such was
the ocean that my fate destined me first to travel over under these
strange conditions.

"Sir," said Captain Nemo, "we will, if you please, take our bearings
and fix the starting-point of this voyage.  It is a quarter to twelve;
I will go up again to the surface."

The Captain pressed an electric clock three times.  The pumps began to
drive the water from the tanks; the needle of the manometer marked by a
different pressure the ascent of the Nautilus, then it stopped.

"We have arrived," said the Captain.

I went to the central staircase which opened on to the platform,
clambered up the iron steps, and found myself on the upper part of the
Nautilus.

The platform was only three feet out of water.  The front and back of
the Nautilus was of that spindle-shape which caused it justly to be
compared to a cigar.  I noticed that its iron plates, slightly
overlaying each other, resembled the shell which clothes the bodies of
our large terrestrial reptiles.  It explained to me how natural it was,
in spite of all glasses, that this boat should have been taken for a
marine animal.

Toward the middle of the platform the longboat, half buried in the hull
of the vessel, formed a slight excrescence.  Fore and aft rose two
cages of medium height with inclined sides, and partly closed by thick
lenticular glasses; one destined for the steersman who directed the
Nautilus, the other containing a brilliant lantern to give light on the
road.

The sea was beautiful, the sky pure.  Scarcely could the long vehicle
feel the broad undulations of the ocean.  A light breeze from the east
rippled the surface of the waters.  The horizon, free from fog, made
observation easy.  Nothing was in sight.  Not a quicksand, not an
island.  A vast desert.

Captain Nemo, by the help of his sextant, took the altitude of the sun,
which ought also to give the latitude.  He waited for some moments till
its disc touched the horizon.  Whilst taking observations not a muscle
moved, the instrument could not have been more motionless in a hand of
marble.

"Twelve o'clock, sir," said he.  "When you like----"

I cast a last look upon the sea, slightly yellowed by the Japanese
coast, and descended to the saloon.

"And now, sir, I leave you to your studies," added the Captain; "our
course is E.N.E., our depth is twenty-six fathoms.  Here are maps on a
large scale by which you may follow it.  The saloon is at your
disposal, and, with your permission, I will retire."  Captain Nemo
bowed, and I remained alone, lost in thoughts all bearing on the
commander of the Nautilus.

For a whole hour was I deep in these reflections, seeking to pierce
this mystery so interesting to me.  Then my eyes fell upon the vast
planisphere spread upon the table, and I placed my finger on the very
spot where the given latitude and longitude crossed.

The sea has its large rivers like the continents.  They are special
currents known by their temperature and their colour.  The most
remarkable of these is known by the name of the Gulf Stream.  Science
has decided on the globe the direction of five principal currents: one
in the North Atlantic, a second in the South, a third in the North
Pacific, a fourth in the South, and a fifth in the Southern Indian
Ocean.  It is even probable that a sixth current existed at one time or
another in the Northern Indian Ocean, when the Caspian and Aral Seas
formed but one vast sheet of water.

At this point indicated on the planisphere one of these currents was
rolling, the Kuro-Scivo of the Japanese, the Black River, which,
leaving the Gulf of Bengal, where it is warmed by the perpendicular
rays of a tropical sun, crosses the Straits of Malacca along the coast
of Asia, turns into the North Pacific to the Aleutian Islands, carrying
with it trunks of camphor-trees and other indigenous productions, and
edging the waves of the ocean with the pure indigo of its warm water.
It was this current that the Nautilus was to follow.  I followed it
with my eye; saw it lose itself in the vastness of the Pacific, and
felt myself drawn with it, when Ned Land and Conseil appeared at the
door of the saloon.

My two brave companions remained petrified at the sight of the wonders
spread before them.

"Where are we, where are we?" exclaimed the Canadian.  "In the museum
at Quebec?"

"My friends," I answered, making a sign for them to enter, "you are not
in Canada, but on board the Nautilus, fifty yards below the level of
the sea."

"But, M. Aronnax," said Ned Land, "can you tell me how many men there
are on board?  Ten, twenty, fifty, a hundred?"

"I cannot answer you, Mr. Land; it is better to abandon for a time all
idea of seizing the Nautilus or escaping from it.  This ship is a
masterpiece of modern industry, and I should be sorry not to have seen
it.  Many people would accept the situation forced upon us, if only to
move amongst such wonders.  So be quiet and let us try and see what
passes around us."

"See!" exclaimed the harpooner, "but we can see nothing in this iron
prison!  We are walking--we are sailing--blindly."

Ned Land had scarcely pronounced these words when all was suddenly
darkness.  The luminous ceiling was gone, and so rapidly that my eyes
received a painful impression.

We remained mute, not stirring, and not knowing what surprise awaited
us, whether agreeable or disagreeable.  A sliding noise was heard: one
would have said that panels were working at the sides of the Nautilus.

"It is the end of the end!" said Ned Land.

Suddenly light broke at each side of the saloon, through two oblong
openings.  The liquid mass appeared vividly lit up by the electric
gleam.  Two crystal plates separated us from the sea.  At first I
trembled at the thought that this frail partition might break, but
strong bands of copper bound them, giving an almost infinite power of
resistance.

The sea was distinctly visible for a mile all round the Nautilus.  What
a spectacle!  What pen can describe it?  Who could paint the effects of
the light through those transparent sheets of water, and the softness
of the successive gradations from the lower to the superior strata of
the ocean?

We know the transparency of the sea and that its clearness is far
beyond that of rock-water. The mineral and organic substances which it
holds in suspension heightens its transparency.  In certain parts of
the ocean at the Antilles, under seventy-five fathoms of water, can be
seen with surprising clearness a bed of sand.  The penetrating power of
the solar rays does not seem to cease for a depth of one hundred and
fifty fathoms.  But in this middle fluid travelled over by the
Nautilus, the electric brightness was produced even in the bosom of the
waves.  It was no longer luminous water, but liquid light.

On each side a window opened into this unexplored abyss.  The obscurity
of the saloon showed to advantage the brightness outside, and we looked
out as if this pure crystal had been the glass of an immense aquarium.

"You wished to see, friend Ned; well, you see now."

"Curious! curious!" muttered the Canadian, who, forgetting his
ill-temper, seemed to submit to some irresistible attraction; "and one
would come further than this to admire such a sight!"

"Ah!" thought I to myself, "I understand the life of this man; he has
made a world apart for himself, in which he treasures all his greatest
wonders."

For two whole hours an aquatic army escorted the Nautilus.  During
their games, their bounds, while rivalling each other in beauty,
brightness, and velocity, I distinguished the green labre; the banded
mullet, marked by a double line of black; the round-tailed goby, of a
white colour, with violet spots on the back; the Japanese scombrus, a
beautiful mackerel of these seas, with a blue body and silvery head;
the brilliant azurors, whose name alone defies description; some banded
spares, with variegated fins of blue and yellow; the woodcocks of the
seas, some specimens of which attain a yard in length; Japanese
salamanders, spider lampreys, serpents six feet long, with eyes small
and lively, and a huge mouth bristling with teeth; with many other
species.

Our imagination was kept at its height, interjections followed quickly
on each other.  Ned named the fish, and Conseil classed them.  I was in
ecstasies with the vivacity of their movements and the beauty of their
forms.  Never had it been given to me to surprise these animals, alive
and at liberty, in their natural element.  I will not mention all the
varieties which passed before my dazzled eyes, all the collection of
the seas of China and Japan.  These fish, more numerous than the birds
of the air, came, attracted, no doubt, by the brilliant focus of the
electric light.

Suddenly there was daylight in the saloon, the iron panels closed
again, and the enchanting vision disappeared.  But for a long time I
dreamt on, till my eyes fell on the instruments hanging on the
partition.  The compass still showed the course to be E.N.E., the
manometer indicated a pressure of five atmospheres, equivalent to a
depth of twenty five fathoms, and the electric log gave a speed of
fifteen miles an hour.  I expected Captain Nemo, but he did not appear.
The clock marked the hour of five.

Ned Land and Conseil returned to their cabin, and I retired to my
chamber.  My dinner was ready.  It was composed of turtle soup made of
the most delicate hawks bills, of a surmullet served with puff paste
(the liver of which, prepared by itself, was most delicious), and
fillets of the emperor-holocanthus, the savour of which seemed to me
superior even to salmon.

I passed the evening reading, writing, and thinking.  Then sleep
overpowered me, and I stretched myself on my couch of zostera, and
slept profoundly, whilst the Nautilus was gliding rapidly through the
current of the Black River.



CHAPTER XIV

A NOTE OF INVITATION

The next day was the 9th of November.  I awoke after a long sleep of
twelve hours.  Conseil came, according to custom, to know "how I passed
the night," and to offer his services.  He had left his friend the
Canadian sleeping like a man who had never done anything else all his
life.  I let the worthy fellow chatter as he pleased, without caring to
answer him.  I was preoccupied by the absence of the Captain during our
sitting of the day before, and hoping to see him to-day.

As soon as I was dressed I went into the saloon.  It was deserted.  I
plunged into the study of the shell treasures hidden behind the glasses.

The whole day passed without my being honoured by a visit from Captain
Nemo.  The panels of the saloon did not open.  Perhaps they did not
wish us to tire of these beautiful things.

The course of the Nautilus was E.N.E., her speed twelve knots, the
depth below the surface between twenty-five and thirty fathoms.

The next day, 10th of November, the same desertion, the same solitude.
I did not see one of the ship's crew: Ned and Conseil spent the greater
part of the day with me.  They were astonished at the puzzling absence
of the Captain.  Was this singular man ill?--had he altered his
intentions with regard to us?

After all, as Conseil said, we enjoyed perfect liberty, we were
delicately and abundantly fed.  Our host kept to his terms of the
treaty.  We could not complain, and, indeed, the singularity of our
fate reserved such wonderful compensation for us that we had no right
to accuse it as yet.

That day I commenced the journal of these adventures which has enabled
me to relate them with more scrupulous exactitude and minute detail.

11th November, early in the morning.  The fresh air spreading over the
interior of the Nautilus told me that we had come to the surface of the
ocean to renew our supply of oxygen.  I directed my steps to the
central staircase, and mounted the platform.

It was six o'clock, the weather was cloudy, the sea grey, but calm.
Scarcely a billow.  Captain Nemo, whom I hoped to meet, would he be
there?  I saw no one but the steersman imprisoned in his glass cage.
Seated upon the projection formed by the hull of the pinnace, I inhaled
the salt breeze with delight.

By degrees the fog disappeared under the action of the sun's rays, the
radiant orb rose from behind the eastern horizon.  The sea flamed under
its glance like a train of gunpowder.  The clouds scattered in the
heights were coloured with lively tints of beautiful shades, and
numerous "mare's tails," which betokened wind for that day.  But what
was wind to this Nautilus, which tempests could not frighten!

I was admiring this joyous rising of the sun, so gay, and so
life-giving, when I heard steps approaching the platform.  I was
prepared to salute Captain Nemo, but it was his second (whom I had
already seen on the Captain's first visit) who appeared.  He advanced
on the platform, not seeming to see me.  With his powerful glass to his
eye, he scanned every point of the horizon with great attention.  This
examination over, he approached the panel and pronounced a sentence in
exactly these terms.  I have remembered it, for every morning it was
repeated under exactly the same conditions.  It was thus worded:

"Nautron respoc lorni virch."

What it meant I could not say.

These words pronounced, the second descended.  I thought that the
Nautilus was about to return to its submarine navigation.  I regained
the panel and returned to my chamber.

Five days sped thus, without any change in our situation.  Every
morning I mounted the platform.  The same phrase was pronounced by the
same individual.  But Captain Nemo did not appear.

I had made up my mind that I should never see him again, when, on the
16th November, on returning to my room with Ned and Conseil, I found
upon my table a note addressed to me.  I opened it impatiently.  It was
written in a bold, clear hand, the characters rather pointed, recalling
the German type.  The note was worded as follows:


TO PROFESSOR ARONNAX, On board the Nautilus.  16th of November, 1867.

Captain Nemo invites Professor Aronnax to a hunting-party, which will
take place to-morrow morning in the forests of the Island of Crespo.
He hopes that nothing will prevent the Professor from being present,
and he will with pleasure see him joined by his companions.

CAPTAIN NEMO, Commander of the Nautilus.


"A hunt!" exclaimed Ned.

"And in the forests of the Island of Crespo!" added Conseil.

"Oh! then the gentleman is going on terra firma?" replied Ned Land.

"That seems to me to be clearly indicated," said I, reading the letter
once more.

"Well, we must accept," said the Canadian.  "But once more on dry
ground, we shall know what to do.  Indeed, I shall not be sorry to eat
a piece of fresh venison."

Without seeking to reconcile what was contradictory between Captain
Nemo's manifest aversion to islands and continents, and his invitation
to hunt in a forest, I contented myself with replying:

"Let us first see where the Island of Crespo is."

I consulted the planisphere, and in 32° 40' N. lat. and 157°
50' W. long., I found a small island, recognised in 1801 by Captain
Crespo, and marked in the ancient Spanish maps as Rocca de la Plata,
the meaning of which is The Silver Rock.  We were then about eighteen
hundred miles from our starting-point, and the course of the Nautilus,
a little changed, was bringing it back towards the southeast.

I showed this little rock, lost in the midst of the North Pacific, to
my companions.

"If Captain Nemo does sometimes go on dry ground," said I, "he at least
chooses desert islands."

Ned Land shrugged his shoulders without speaking, and Conseil and he
left me.

After supper, which was served by the steward, mute and impassive, I
went to bed, not without some anxiety.

The next morning, the 17th of November, on awakening, I felt that the
Nautilus was perfectly still.  I dressed quickly and entered the saloon.

Captain Nemo was there, waiting for me.  He rose, bowed, and asked me
if it was convenient for me to accompany him.  As he made no allusion
to his absence during the last eight days, I did not mention it, and
simply answered that my companions and myself were ready to follow him.

We entered the dining-room, where breakfast was served.

"M. Aronnax," said the Captain, "pray, share my breakfast without
ceremony; we will chat as we eat.  For, though I promised you a walk in
the forest, I did not undertake to find hotels there.  So breakfast as
a man who will most likely not have his dinner till very late."

I did honour to the repast.  It was composed of several kinds of fish,
and slices of sea-cucumber, and different sorts of seaweed.  Our drink
consisted of pure water, to which the Captain added some drops of a
fermented liquor, extracted by the Kamschatcha method from a seaweed
known under the name of Rhodomenia palmata.  Captain Nemo ate at first
without saying a word.  Then he began:

"Sir, when I proposed to you to hunt in my submarine forest of Crespo,
you evidently thought me mad.  Sir, you should never judge lightly of
any man."

"But Captain, believe me----"

"Be kind enough to listen, and you will then see whether you have any
cause to accuse me of folly and contradiction."

"I listen."

"You know as well as I do, Professor, that man can live under water,
providing he carries with him a sufficient supply of breathable air.
In submarine works, the workman, clad in an impervious dress, with his
head in a metal helmet, receives air from above by means of forcing
pumps and regulators."

"That is a diving apparatus," said I.

"Just so, but under these conditions the man is not at liberty; he is
attached to the pump which sends him air through an india-rubber tube,
and if we were obliged to be thus held to the Nautilus, we could not go
far."

"And the means of getting free?"  I asked.

"It is to use the Rouquayrol apparatus, invented by two of your own
countrymen, which I have brought to perfection for my own use, and
which will allow you to risk yourself under these new physiological
conditions without any organ whatever suffering.  It consists of a
reservoir of thick iron plates, in which I store the air under a
pressure of fifty atmospheres.  This reservoir is fixed on the back by
means of braces, like a soldier's knapsack.  Its upper part forms a box
in which the air is kept by means of a bellows, and therefore cannot
escape unless at its normal tension.  In the Rouquayrol apparatus such
as we use, two india rubber pipes leave this box and join a sort of
tent which holds the nose and mouth; one is to introduce fresh air, the
other to let out the foul, and the tongue closes one or the other
according to the wants of the respirator.  But I, in encountering great
pressures at the bottom of the sea, was obliged to shut my head, like
that of a diver in a ball of copper; and it is to this ball of copper
that the two pipes, the inspirator and the expirator, open."

"Perfectly, Captain Nemo; but the air that you carry with you must soon
be used; when it only contains fifteen per cent.  of oxygen it is no
longer fit to breathe."

"Right!  But I told you, M. Aronnax, that the pumps of the Nautilus
allow me to store the air under considerable pressure, and on those
conditions the reservoir of the apparatus can furnish breathable air
for nine or ten hours."

"I have no further objections to make," I answered.  "I will only ask
you one thing, Captain--how can you light your road at the bottom of
the sea?"

"With the Ruhmkorff apparatus, M. Aronnax; one is carried on the back,
the other is fastened to the waist.  It is composed of a Bunsen pile,
which I do not work with bichromate of potash, but with sodium.  A wire
is introduced which collects the electricity produced, and directs it
towards a particularly made lantern.  In this lantern is a spiral glass
which contains a small quantity of carbonic gas.  When the apparatus is
at work this gas becomes luminous, giving out a white and continuous
light.  Thus provided, I can breathe and I can see."

"Captain Nemo, to all my objections you make such crushing answers that
I dare no longer doubt.  But, if I am forced to admit the Rouquayrol
and Ruhmkorff apparatus, I must be allowed some reservations with
regard to the gun I am to carry."

"But it is not a gun for powder," answered the Captain.

"Then it is an air-gun."

"Doubtless!  How would you have me manufacture gun powder on board,
without either saltpetre, sulphur, or charcoal?"

"Besides," I added, "to fire under water in a medium eight hundred and
fifty-five times denser than the air, we must conquer very considerable
resistance."

"That would be no difficulty.  There exist guns, according to Fulton,
perfected in England by Philip Coles and Burley, in France by Furcy,
and in Italy by Landi, which are furnished with a peculiar system of
closing, which can fire under these conditions.  But I repeat, having
no powder, I use air under great pressure, which the pumps of the
Nautilus furnish abundantly."

"But this air must be rapidly used?"

"Well, have I not my Rouquayrol reservoir, which can furnish it at
need?  A tap is all that is required.  Besides M. Aronnax, you must see
yourself that, during our submarine hunt, we can spend but little air
and but few balls."

"But it seems to me that in this twilight, and in the midst of this
fluid, which is very dense compared with the atmosphere, shots could
not go far, nor easily prove mortal."

"Sir, on the contrary, with this gun every blow is mortal; and, however
lightly the animal is touched, it falls as if struck by a thunderbolt."

"Why?"

"Because the balls sent by this gun are not ordinary balls, but little
cases of glass.  These glass cases are covered with a case of steel,
and weighted with a pellet of lead; they are real Leyden bottles, into
which the electricity is forced to a very high tension.  With the
slightest shock they are discharged, and the animal, however strong it
may be, falls dead.  I must tell you that these cases are size number
four, and that the charge for an ordinary gun would be ten."

"I will argue no longer," I replied, rising from the table.  "I have
nothing left me but to take my gun.  At all events, I will go where you
go."

Captain Nemo then led me aft; and in passing before Ned's and Conseil's
cabin, I called my two companions, who followed promptly.  We then came
to a cell near the machinery-room, in which we put on our walking-dress.



CHAPTER XV

A WALK ON THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA

This cell was, to speak correctly, the arsenal and wardrobe of the
Nautilus.  A dozen diving apparatuses hung from the partition waiting
our use.

Ned Land, on seeing them, showed evident repugnance to dress himself in
one.

"But, my worthy Ned, the forests of the Island of Crespo are nothing
but submarine forests."

"Good!" said the disappointed harpooner, who saw his dreams of fresh
meat fade away.  "And you, M. Aronnax, are you going to dress yourself
in those clothes?"

"There is no alternative, Master Ned."

"As you please, sir," replied the harpooner, shrugging his shoulders;
"but, as for me, unless I am forced, I will never get into one."

"No one will force you, Master Ned," said Captain Nemo.

"Is Conseil going to risk it?" asked Ned.

"I follow my master wherever he goes," replied Conseil.

At the Captain's call two of the ship's crew came to help us dress in
these heavy and impervious clothes, made of india-rubber without seam,
and constructed expressly to resist considerable pressure.  One would
have thought it a suit of armour, both supple and resisting.  This suit
formed trousers and waistcoat.  The trousers were finished off with
thick boots, weighted with heavy leaden soles.  The texture of the
waistcoat was held together by bands of copper, which crossed the
chest, protecting it from the great pressure of the water, and leaving
the lungs free to act; the sleeves ended in gloves, which in no way
restrained the movement of the hands.  There was a vast difference
noticeable between these consummate apparatuses and the old cork
breastplates, jackets, and other contrivances in vogue during the
eighteenth century.

Captain Nemo and one of his companions (a sort of Hercules, who must
have possessed great strength), Conseil and myself were soon enveloped
in the dresses.  There remained nothing more to be done but to enclose
our heads in the metal box.  But, before proceeding to this operation,
I asked the Captain's permission to examine the guns.

One of the Nautilus men gave me a simple gun, the butt end of which,
made of steel, hollow in the centre, was rather large.  It served as a
reservoir for compressed air, which a valve, worked by a spring,
allowed to escape into a metal tube.  A box of projectiles in a groove
in the thickness of the butt end contained about twenty of these
electric balls, which, by means of a spring, were forced into the
barrel of the gun.  As soon as one shot was fired, another was ready.

"Captain Nemo," said I, "this arm is perfect, and easily handled: I
only ask to be allowed to try it.  But how shall we gain the bottom of
the sea?"

"At this moment, Professor, the Nautilus is stranded in five fathoms,
and we have nothing to do but to start."

"But how shall we get off?"

"You shall see."

Captain Nemo thrust his head into the helmet, Conseil and I did the
same, not without hearing an ironical "Good sport!" from the Canadian.
The upper part of our dress terminated in a copper collar upon which
was screwed the metal helmet.  Three holes, protected by thick glass,
allowed us to see in all directions, by simply turning our head in the
interior of the head-dress. As soon as it was in position, the
Rouquayrol apparatus on our backs began to act; and, for my part, I
could breathe with ease.

With the Ruhmkorff lamp hanging from my belt, and the gun in my hand, I
was ready to set out.  But to speak the truth, imprisoned in these
heavy garments, and glued to the deck by my leaden soles, it was
impossible for me to take a step.

But this state of things was provided for.  I felt myself being pushed
into a little room contiguous to the wardrobe room.  My companions
followed, towed along in the same way.  I heard a water-tight door,
furnished with stopper plates, close upon us, and we were wrapped in
profound darkness.

After some minutes, a loud hissing was heard.  I felt the cold mount
from my feet to my chest.  Evidently from some part of the vessel they
had, by means of a tap, given entrance to the water, which was invading
us, and with which the room was soon filled.  A second door cut in the
side of the Nautilus then opened.  We saw a faint light.  In another
instant our feet trod the bottom of the sea.

And now, how can I retrace the impression left upon me by that walk
under the waters?  Words are impotent to relate such wonders!  Captain
Nemo walked in front, his companion followed some steps behind.
Conseil and I remained near each other, as if an exchange of words had
been possible through our metallic cases.  I no longer felt the weight
of my clothing, or of my shoes, of my reservoir of air, or my thick
helmet, in the midst of which my head rattled like an almond in its
shell.

The light, which lit the soil thirty feet below the surface of the
ocean, astonished me by its power.  The solar rays shone through the
watery mass easily, and dissipated all colour, and I clearly
distinguished objects at a distance of a hundred and fifty yards.
Beyond that the tints darkened into fine gradations of ultramarine, and
faded into vague obscurity.  Truly this water which surrounded me was
but another air denser than the terrestrial atmosphere, but almost as
transparent.  Above me was the calm surface of the sea.  We were
walking on fine, even sand, not wrinkled, as on a flat shore, which
retains the impression of the billows.  This dazzling carpet, really a
reflector, repelled the rays of the sun with wonderful intensity, which
accounted for the vibration which penetrated every atom of liquid.
Shall I be believed when I say that, at the depth of thirty feet, I
could see as if I was in broad daylight?

For a quarter of an hour I trod on this sand, sown with the impalpable
dust of shells.  The hull of the Nautilus, resembling a long shoal,
disappeared by degrees; but its lantern, when darkness should overtake
us in the waters, would help to guide us on board by its distinct rays.

Soon forms of objects outlined in the distance were discernible.  I
recognised magnificent rocks, hung with a tapestry of zoophytes of the
most beautiful kind, and I was at first struck by the peculiar effect
of this medium.

It was then ten in the morning; the rays of the sun struck the surface
of the waves at rather an oblique angle, and at the touch of their
light, decomposed by refraction as through a prism, flowers, rocks,
plants, shells, and polypi were shaded at the edges by the seven solar
colours.  It was marvellous, a feast for the eyes, this complication of
coloured tints, a perfect kaleidoscope of green, yellow, orange,
violet, indigo, and blue; in one word, the whole palette of an
enthusiastic colourist!  Why could I not communicate to Conseil the
lively sensations which were mounting to my brain, and rival him in
expressions of admiration?  For aught I knew, Captain Nemo and his
companion might be able to exchange thoughts by means of signs
previously agreed upon.  So, for want of better, I talked to myself; I
declaimed in the copper box which covered my head, thereby expending
more air in vain words than was perhaps wise.

Various kinds of isis, clusters of pure tuft-coral, prickly fungi, and
anemones formed a brilliant garden of flowers, decked with their
collarettes of blue tentacles, sea-stars studding the sandy bottom.  It
was a real grief to me to crush under my feet the brilliant specimens
of molluscs which strewed the ground by thousands, of hammerheads,
donaciae (veritable bounding shells), of staircases, and red
helmet-shells, angel-wings, and many others produced by this
inexhaustible ocean.  But we were bound to walk, so we went on, whilst
above our heads waved medusae whose umbrellas of opal or rose-pink,
escalloped with a band of blue, sheltered us from the rays of the sun
and fiery pelagiae, which, in the darkness, would have strewn our path
with phosphorescent light.

All these wonders I saw in the space of a quarter of a mile, scarcely
stopping, and following Captain Nemo, who beckoned me on by signs.
Soon the nature of the soil changed; to the sandy plain succeeded an
extent of slimy mud which the Americans call "ooze," composed of equal
parts of silicious and calcareous shells.  We then travelled over a
plain of seaweed of wild and luxuriant vegetation.  This sward was of
close texture, and soft to the feet, and rivalled the softest carpet
woven by the hand of man.  But whilst verdure was spread at our feet,
it did not abandon our heads.  A light network of marine plants, of
that inexhaustible family of seaweeds of which more than two thousand
kinds are known, grew on the surface of the water.

I noticed that the green plants kept nearer the top of the sea, whilst
the red were at a greater depth, leaving to the black or brown the care
of forming gardens and parterres in the remote beds of the ocean.

We had quitted the Nautilus about an hour and a half.  It was near
noon; I knew by the perpendicularity of the sun's rays, which were no
longer refracted.  The magical colours disappeared by degrees, and the
shades of emerald and sapphire were effaced.  We walked with a regular
step, which rang upon the ground with astonishing intensity; the
slightest noise was transmitted with a quickness to which the ear is
unaccustomed on the earth; indeed, water is a better conductor of sound
than air, in the ratio of four to one.  At this period the earth sloped
downwards; the light took a uniform tint.  We were at a depth of a
hundred and five yards and twenty inches, undergoing a pressure of six
atmospheres.

At this depth I could still see the rays of the sun, though feebly; to
their intense brilliancy had succeeded a reddish twilight, the lowest
state between day and night; but we could still see well enough; it was
not necessary to resort to the Ruhmkorff apparatus as yet.  At this
moment Captain Nemo stopped; he waited till I joined him, and then
pointed to an obscure mass, looming in the shadow, at a short distance.

"It is the forest of the Island of Crespo," thought I; and I was not
mistaken.



CHAPTER XVI

A SUBMARINE FOREST

We had at last arrived on the borders of this forest, doubtless one of
the finest of Captain Nemo's immense domains.  He looked upon it as his
own, and considered he had the same right over it that the first men
had in the first days of the world.  And, indeed, who would have
disputed with him the possession of this submarine property?  What
other hardier pioneer would come, hatchet in hand, to cut down the dark
copses?

This forest was composed of large tree-plants; and the moment we
penetrated under its vast arcades, I was struck by the singular
position of their branches--a position I had not yet observed.

Not an herb which carpeted the ground, not a branch which clothed the
trees, was either broken or bent, nor did they extend horizontally; all
stretched up to the surface of the ocean.  Not a filament, not a
ribbon, however thin they might be, but kept as straight as a rod of
iron.  The fuci and llianas grew in rigid perpendicular lines, due to
the density of the element which had produced them.  Motionless yet,
when bent to one side by the hand, they directly resumed their former
position.  Truly it was the region of perpendicularity!

I soon accustomed myself to this fantastic position, as well as to the
comparative darkness which surrounded us.  The soil of the forest
seemed covered with sharp blocks, difficult to avoid.  The submarine
flora struck me as being very perfect, and richer even than it would
have been in the arctic or tropical zones, where these productions are
not so plentiful.  But for some minutes I involuntarily confounded the
genera, taking animals for plants; and who would not have been
mistaken?  The fauna and the flora are too closely allied in this
submarine world.

These plants are self-propagated, and the principle of their existence
is in the water, which upholds and nourishes them.  The greater number,
instead of leaves, shoot forth blades of capricious shapes, comprised
within a scale of colours pink, carmine, green, olive, fawn, and brown.

"Curious anomaly, fantastic element!" said an ingenious naturalist, "in
which the animal kingdom blossoms, and the vegetable does not!"

In about an hour Captain Nemo gave the signal to halt; I, for my part,
was not sorry, and we stretched ourselves under an arbour of alariae,
the long thin blades of which stood up like arrows.

This short rest seemed delicious to me; there was nothing wanting but
the charm of conversation; but, impossible to speak, impossible to
answer, I only put my great copper head to Conseil's.  I saw the worthy
fellow's eyes glistening with delight, and, to show his satisfaction,
he shook himself in his breastplate of air, in the most comical way in
the world.

After four hours of this walking, I was surprised not to find myself
dreadfully hungry.  How to account for this state of the stomach I
could not tell.  But instead I felt an insurmountable desire to sleep,
which happens to all divers.  And my eyes soon closed behind the thick
glasses, and I fell into a heavy slumber, which the movement alone had
prevented before.  Captain Nemo and his robust companion, stretched in
the clear crystal, set us the example.

How long I remained buried in this drowsiness I cannot judge, but, when
I woke, the sun seemed sinking towards the horizon.  Captain Nemo had
already risen, and I was beginning to stretch my limbs, when an
unexpected apparition brought me briskly to my feet.

A few steps off, a monstrous sea-spider, about thirty-eight inches
high, was watching me with squinting eyes, ready to spring upon me.
Though my diver's dress was thick enough to defend me from the bite of
this animal, I could not help shuddering with horror.  Conseil and the
sailor of the Nautilus awoke at this moment.  Captain Nemo pointed out
the hideous crustacean, which a blow from the butt end of the gun
knocked over, and I saw the horrible claws of the monster writhe in
terrible convulsions.  This incident reminded me that other animals
more to be feared might haunt these obscure depths, against whose
attacks my diving-dress would not protect me.  I had never thought of
it before, but I now resolved to be upon my guard.  Indeed, I thought
that this halt would mark the termination of our walk; but I was
mistaken, for, instead of returning to the Nautilus, Captain Nemo
continued his bold excursion.  The ground was still on the incline, its
declivity seemed to be getting greater, and to be leading us to greater
depths.  It must have been about three o'clock when we reached a narrow
valley, between high perpendicular walls, situated about seventy-five
fathoms deep.  Thanks to the perfection of our apparatus, we were
forty-five fathoms below the limit which nature seems to have imposed
on man as to his submarine excursions.

I say seventy-five fathoms, though I had no instrument by which to
judge the distance.  But I knew that even in the clearest waters the
solar rays could not penetrate further.  And accordingly the darkness
deepened.  At ten paces not an object was visible.  I was groping my
way, when I suddenly saw a brilliant white light.  Captain Nemo had
just put his electric apparatus into use; his companion did the same,
and Conseil and I followed their example.  By turning a screw I
established a communication between the wire and the spiral glass, and
the sea, lit by our four lanterns, was illuminated for a circle of
thirty-six yards.

As we walked I thought the light of our Ruhmkorff apparatus could not
fail to draw some inhabitant from its dark couch.  But if they did
approach us, they at least kept at a respectful distance from the
hunters.  Several times I saw Captain Nemo stop, put his gun to his
shoulder, and after some moments drop it and walk on.  At last, after
about four hours, this marvellous excursion came to an end.  A wall of
superb rocks, in an imposing mass, rose before us, a heap of gigantic
blocks, an enormous, steep granite shore, forming dark grottos, but
which presented no practicable slope; it was the prop of the Island of
Crespo.  It was the earth!  Captain Nemo stopped suddenly.  A gesture
of his brought us all to a halt; and, however desirous I might be to
scale the wall, I was obliged to stop.  Here ended Captain Nemo's
domains.  And he would not go beyond them.  Further on was a portion of
the globe he might not trample upon.

The return began.  Captain Nemo had returned to the head of his little
band, directing their course without hesitation.  I thought we were not
following the same road to return to the Nautilus.  The new road was
very steep, and consequently very painful.  We approached the surface
of the sea rapidly.  But this return to the upper strata was not so
sudden as to cause relief from the pressure too rapidly, which might
have produced serious disorder in our organisation, and brought on
internal lesions, so fatal to divers.  Very soon light reappeared and
grew, and, the sun being low on the horizon, the refraction edged the
different objects with a spectral ring.  At ten yards and a half deep,
we walked amidst a shoal of little fishes of all kinds, more numerous
than the birds of the air, and also more agile; but no aquatic game
worthy of a shot had as yet met our gaze, when at that moment I saw the
Captain shoulder his gun quickly, and follow a moving object into the
shrubs.  He fired; I heard a slight hissing, and a creature fell
stunned at some distance from us.  It was a magnificent sea-otter, an
enhydrus, the only exclusively marine quadruped.  This otter was five
feet long, and must have been very valuable.  Its skin, chestnut-brown
above and silvery underneath, would have made one of those beautiful
furs so sought after in the Russian and Chinese markets: the fineness
and the lustre of its coat would certainly fetch L80.  I admired this
curious mammal, with its rounded head ornamented with short ears, its
round eyes, and white whiskers like those of a cat, with webbed feet
and nails, and tufted tail.  This precious animal, hunted and tracked
by fishermen, has now become very rare, and taken refuge chiefly in the
northern parts of the Pacific, or probably its race would soon become
extinct.

Captain Nemo's companion took the beast, threw it over his shoulder,
and we continued our journey.  For one hour a plain of sand lay
stretched before us.  Sometimes it rose to within two yards and some
inches of the surface of the water.  I then saw our image clearly
reflected, drawn inversely, and above us appeared an identical group
reflecting our movements and our actions; in a word, like us in every
point, except that they walked with their heads downward and their feet
in the air.

Another effect I noticed, which was the passage of thick clouds which
formed and vanished rapidly; but on reflection I understood that these
seeming clouds were due to the varying thickness of the reeds at the
bottom, and I could even see the fleecy foam which their broken tops
multiplied on the water, and the shadows of large birds passing above
our heads, whose rapid flight I could discern on the surface of the sea.

On this occasion I was witness to one of the finest gun shots which
ever made the nerves of a hunter thrill.  A large bird of great breadth
of wing, clearly visible, approached, hovering over us.  Captain Nemo's
companion shouldered his gun and fired, when it was only a few yards
above the waves.  The creature fell stunned, and the force of its fall
brought it within the reach of dexterous hunter's grasp.  It was an
albatross of the finest kind.

Our march had not been interrupted by this incident.  For two hours we
followed these sandy plains, then fields of algae very disagreeable to
cross.  Candidly, I could do no more when I saw a glimmer of light,
which, for a half mile, broke the darkness of the waters.  It was the
lantern of the Nautilus.  Before twenty minutes were over we should be
on board, and I should be able to breathe with ease, for it seemed that
my reservoir supplied air very deficient in oxygen.  But I did not
reckon on an accidental meeting which delayed our arrival for some time.

I had remained some steps behind, when I presently saw Captain Nemo
coming hurriedly towards me.  With his strong hand he bent me to the
ground, his companion doing the same to Conseil.  At first I knew not
what to think of this sudden attack, but I was soon reassured by seeing
the Captain lie down beside me, and remain immovable.

I was stretched on the ground, just under the shelter of a bush of
algae, when, raising my head, I saw some enormous mass, casting
phosphorescent gleams, pass blusteringly by.

My blood froze in my veins as I recognised two formidable sharks which
threatened us.  It was a couple of tintoreas, terrible creatures, with
enormous tails and a dull glassy stare, the phosphorescent matter
ejected from holes pierced around the muzzle.  Monstrous brutes! which
would crush a whole man in their iron jaws.  I did not know whether
Conseil stopped to classify them; for my part, I noticed their silver
bellies, and their huge mouths bristling with teeth, from a very
unscientific point of view, and more as a possible victim than as a
naturalist.

Happily the voracious creatures do not see well.  They passed without
seeing us, brushing us with their brownish fins, and we escaped by a
miracle from a danger certainly greater than meeting a tiger full-face
in the forest.  Half an hour after, guided by the electric light we
reached the Nautilus.  The outside door had been left open, and Captain
Nemo closed it as soon as we had entered the first cell.  He then
pressed a knob.  I heard the pumps working in the midst of the vessel,
I felt the water sinking from around me, and in a few moments the cell
was entirely empty.  The inside door then opened, and we entered the
vestry.

There our diving-dress was taken off, not without some trouble, and,
fairly worn out from want of food and sleep, I returned to my room, in
great wonder at this surprising excursion at the bottom of the sea.



CHAPTER XVII

FOUR THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE PACIFIC

The next morning, the 18th of November, I had quite recovered from my
fatigues of the day before, and I went up on to the platform, just as
the second lieutenant was uttering his daily phrase.

I was admiring the magnificent aspect of the ocean when Captain Nemo
appeared.  He did not seem to be aware of my presence, and began a
series of astronomical observations.  Then, when he had finished, he
went and leant on the cage of the watch-light, and gazed abstractedly
on the ocean.  In the meantime, a number of the sailors of the
Nautilus, all strong and healthy men, had come up onto the platform.
They came to draw up the nets that had been laid all night.  These
sailors were evidently of different nations, although the European type
was visible in all of them.  I recognised some unmistakable Irishmen,
Frenchmen, some Sclaves, and a Greek, or a Candiote.  They were civil,
and only used that odd language among themselves, the origin of which I
could not guess, neither could I question them.

The nets were hauled in.  They were a large kind of "chaluts," like
those on the Normandy coasts, great pockets that the waves and a chain
fixed in the smaller meshes kept open.  These pockets, drawn by iron
poles, swept through the water, and gathered in everything in their
way.  That day they brought up curious specimens from those productive
coasts.

I reckoned that the haul had brought in more than nine hundredweight of
fish.  It was a fine haul, but not to be wondered at.  Indeed, the nets
are let down for several hours, and enclose in their meshes an infinite
variety.  We had no lack of excellent food, and the rapidity of the
Nautilus and the attraction of the electric light could always renew
our supply.  These several productions of the sea were immediately
lowered through the panel to the steward's room, some to be eaten
fresh, and others pickled.

The fishing ended, the provision of air renewed, I thought that the
Nautilus was about to continue its submarine excursion, and was
preparing to return to my room, when, without further preamble, the
Captain turned to me, saying:

"Professor, is not this ocean gifted with real life?  It has its
tempers and its gentle moods.  Yesterday it slept as we did, and now it
has woke after a quiet night.  Look!" he continued, "it wakes under the
caresses of the sun.  It is going to renew its diurnal existence.  It
is an interesting study to watch the play of its organisation.  It has
a pulse, arteries, spasms; and I agree with the learned Maury, who
discovered in it a circulation as real as the circulation of blood in
animals.

"Yes, the ocean has indeed circulation, and to promote it, the Creator
has caused things to multiply in it--caloric, salt, and animalculae."

When Captain Nemo spoke thus, he seemed altogether changed, and aroused
an extraordinary emotion in me.

"Also," he added, "true existence is there; and I can imagine the
foundations of nautical towns, clusters of submarine houses, which,
like the Nautilus, would ascend every morning to breathe at the surface
of the water, free towns, independent cities.  Yet who knows whether
some despot----"

Captain Nemo finished his sentence with a violent gesture.  Then,
addressing me as if to chase away some sorrowful thought:

"M. Aronnax," he asked, "do you know the depth of the ocean?"

"I only know, Captain, what the principal soundings have taught us."

"Could you tell me them, so that I can suit them to my purpose?"

"These are some," I replied, "that I remember.  If I am not mistaken, a
depth of 8,000 yards has been found in the North Atlantic, and 2,500
yards in the Mediterranean.  The most remarkable soundings have been
made in the South Atlantic, near the thirty-fifth parallel, and they
gave 12,000 yards, 14,000 yards, and 15,000 yards.  To sum up all, it
is reckoned that if the bottom of the sea were levelled, its mean depth
would be about one and three-quarter leagues."

"Well, Professor," replied the Captain, "we shall show you better than
that I hope.  As to the mean depth of this part of the Pacific, I tell
you it is only 4,000 yards."

Having said this, Captain Nemo went towards the panel, and disappeared
down the ladder.  I followed him, and went into the large drawing-room.
The screw was immediately put in motion, and the log gave twenty miles
an hour.

During the days and weeks that passed, Captain Nemo was very sparing of
his visits.  I seldom saw him.  The lieutenant pricked the ship's
course regularly on the chart, so I could always tell exactly the route
of the Nautilus.

Nearly every day, for some time, the panels of the drawing-room were
opened, and we were never tired of penetrating the mysteries of the
submarine world.

The general direction of the Nautilus was south-east, and it kept
between 100 and 150 yards of depth.  One day, however, I do not know
why, being drawn diagonally by means of the inclined planes, it touched
the bed of the sea.  The thermometer indicated a temperature of 4.25
(cent.): a temperature that at this depth seemed common to all
latitudes.

At three o'clock in the morning of the 26th of November the Nautilus
crossed the tropic of Cancer at 172° long.  On 27th instant it
sighted the Sandwich Islands, where Cook died, February 14, 1779.  We
had then gone 4,860 leagues from our starting-point. In the morning,
when I went on the platform, I saw two miles to windward, Hawaii, the
largest of the seven islands that form the group.  I saw clearly the
cultivated ranges, and the several mountain-chains that run parallel
with the side, and the volcanoes that overtop Mouna-Rea, which rise
5,000 yards above the level of the sea.  Besides other things the nets
brought up, were several flabellariae and graceful polypi, that are
peculiar to that part of the ocean.  The direction of the Nautilus was
still to the south-east. It crossed the equator December 1, in 142°
long.; and on the 4th of the same month, after crossing rapidly and
without anything in particular occurring, we sighted the Marquesas
group.  I saw, three miles off, Martin's peak in Nouka-Hiva, the
largest of the group that belongs to France.  I only saw the woody
mountains against the horizon, because Captain Nemo did not wish to
bring the ship to the wind.  There the nets brought up beautiful
specimens of fish:  some with azure fins and tails like gold, the flesh
of which is unrivalled; some nearly destitute of scales, but of
exquisite flavour; others, with bony jaws, and yellow-tinged gills, as
good as bonitos; all fish that would be of use to us.  After leaving
these charming islands protected by the French flag, from the 4th to
the 11th of December the Nautilus sailed over about 2,000 miles.

During the daytime of the 11th of December I was busy reading in the
large drawing-room. Ned Land and Conseil watched the luminous water
through the half-open panels.  The Nautilus was immovable.  While its
reservoirs were filled, it kept at a depth of 1,000 yards, a region
rarely visited in the ocean, and in which large fish were seldom seen.

I was then reading a charming book by Jean Mace, The Slaves of the
Stomach, and I was learning some valuable lessons from it, when Conseil
interrupted me.

"Will master come here a moment?" he said, in a curious voice.

"What is the matter, Conseil?"

"I want master to look."

I rose, went, and leaned on my elbows before the panes and watched.

In a full electric light, an enormous black mass, quite immovable, was
suspended in the midst of the waters.  I watched it attentively,
seeking to find out the nature of this gigantic cetacean.  But a sudden
thought crossed my mind.  "A vessel!" I said, half aloud.

"Yes," replied the Canadian, "a disabled ship that has sunk
perpendicularly."

Ned Land was right; we were close to a vessel of which the tattered
shrouds still hung from their chains.  The keel seemed to be in good
order, and it had been wrecked at most some few hours.  Three stumps of
masts, broken off about two feet above the bridge, showed that the
vessel had had to sacrifice its masts.  But, lying on its side, it had
filled, and it was heeling over to port.  This skeleton of what it had
once been was a sad spectacle as it lay lost under the waves, but
sadder still was the sight of the bridge, where some corpses, bound
with ropes, were still lying.  I counted five--four men, one of whom
was standing at the helm, and a woman standing by the poop, holding an
infant in her arms.  She was quite young.  I could distinguish her
features, which the water had not decomposed, by the brilliant light
from the Nautilus.  In one despairing effort, she had raised her infant
above her head--poor little thing!--whose arms encircled its mother's
neck.  The attitude of the four sailors was frightful, distorted as
they were by their convulsive movements, whilst making a last effort to
free themselves from the cords that bound them to the vessel.  The
steersman alone, calm, with a grave, clear face, his grey hair glued to
his forehead, and his hand clutching the wheel of the helm, seemed even
then to be guiding the three broken masts through the depths of the
ocean.

What a scene!  We were dumb; our hearts beat fast before this
shipwreck, taken as it were from life and photographed in its last
moments.  And I saw already, coming towards it with hungry eyes,
enormous sharks, attracted by the human flesh.

However, the Nautilus, turning, went round the submerged vessel, and in
one instant I read on the stern--"The Florida, Sunderland."



CHAPTER XVIII

VANIKORO

This terrible spectacle was the forerunner of the series of maritime
catastrophes that the Nautilus was destined to meet with in its route.
As long as it went through more frequented waters, we often saw the
hulls of shipwrecked vessels that were rotting in the depths, and
deeper down cannons, bullets, anchors, chains, and a thousand other
iron materials eaten up by rust.  However, on the 11th of December we
sighted the Pomotou Islands, the old "dangerous group" of Bougainville,
that extend over a space of 500 leagues at E.S.E. to W.N.W., from the
Island Ducie to that of Lazareff.  This group covers an area of 370
square leagues, and it is formed of sixty groups of islands, among
which the Gambier group is remarkable, over which France exercises
sway.  These are coral islands, slowly raised, but continuous, created
by the daily work of polypi.  Then this new island will be joined later
on to the neighboring groups, and a fifth continent will stretch from
New Zealand and New Caledonia, and from thence to the Marquesas.

One day, when I was suggesting this theory to Captain Nemo, he replied
coldly:

"The earth does not want new continents, but new men."

Chance had conducted the Nautilus towards the Island of
Clermont-Tonnere, one of the most curious of the group, that was
discovered in 1822 by Captain Bell of the Minerva. I could study now
the madreporal system, to which are due the islands in this ocean.

Madrepores (which must not be mistaken for corals) have a tissue lined
with a calcareous crust, and the modifications of its structure have
induced M. Milne Edwards, my worthy master, to class them into five
sections. The animalcule that the marine polypus secretes live by
millions at the bottom of their cells. Their calcareous deposits become
rocks, reefs, and large and small islands. Here they form a ring,
surrounding a little inland lake, that communicates with the sea by
means of gaps. There they make barriers of reefs like those on the
coasts of New Caledonia and the various Pomoton islands. In other
places, like those at Reunion and at Maurice, they raise fringed reefs,
high, straight walls, near which the depth of the ocean is considerable.

Some cable-lengths off the shores of the Island of Clermont I admired
the gigantic work accomplished by these microscopical workers. These
walls are specially the work of those madrepores known as milleporas,
porites, madrepores, and astraeas. These polypi are found particularly
in the rough beds of the sea, near the surface; and consequently it is
from the upper part that they begin their operations, in which they
bury themselves by degrees with the debris of the secretions that
support them. Such is, at least, Darwin's theory, who thus explains the
formation of the _atolls_, a superior theory (to my mind) to that given
of the foundation of the madreporical works, summits of mountains or
volcanoes, that are submerged some feet below the level of the sea.

I could observe closely these curious walls, for perpendicularly they
were more than 300 yards deep, and our electric sheets lighted up this
calcareous matter brilliantly. Replying to a question Conseil asked me
as to the time these colossal barriers took to be raised, I astonished
him much by telling him that learned men reckoned it about the eighth
of an inch in a hundred years.

Towards evening Clermont-Tonnerre was lost in the distance, and the
route of the Nautilus was sensibly changed. After having crossed the
tropic of Capricorn in 135° longitude, it sailed W.N.W., making
again for the tropical zone. Although the summer sun was very strong,
we did not suffer from heat, for at fifteen or twenty fathoms below the
surface, the temperature did not rise above from ten to twelve degrees.

On 15th of December, we left to the east the bewitching group of the
Societies and the graceful Tahiti, queen of the Pacific.  I saw in the
morning, some miles to the windward, the elevated summits of the
island.  These waters furnished our table with excellent fish,
mackerel, bonitos, and some varieties of a sea-serpent.

On the 25th of December the Nautilus sailed into the midst of the New
Hebrides, discovered by Quiros in 1606, and that Bougainville explored
in 1768, and to which Cook gave its present name in 1773.  This group
is composed principally of nine large islands, that form a band of 120
leagues N.N.S. to S.S.W., between 15° and 2° S. lat., and 164
deg. and 168° long.  We passed tolerably near to the Island of
Aurou, that at noon looked like a mass of green woods, surmounted by a
peak of great height.

That day being Christmas Day, Ned Land seemed to regret sorely the
non-celebration of "Christmas," the family fete of which Protestants
are so fond.  I had not seen Captain Nemo for a week, when, on the
morning of the 27th, he came into the large drawing-room, always
seeming as if he had seen you five minutes before.  I was busily
tracing the route of the Nautilus on the planisphere.  The Captain came
up to me, put his finger on one spot on the chart, and said this single
word.

"Vanikoro."

The effect was magical!  It was the name of the islands on which La
Perouse had been lost!  I rose suddenly.

"The Nautilus has brought us to Vanikoro?"  I asked.

"Yes, Professor," said the Captain.

"And I can visit the celebrated islands where the Boussole and the
Astrolabe struck?"

"If you like, Professor."

"When shall we be there?"

"We are there now."

Followed by Captain Nemo, I went up on to the platform, and greedily
scanned the horizon.

To the N.E. two volcanic islands emerged of unequal size, surrounded by
a coral reef that measured forty miles in circumference.  We were close
to Vanikoro, really the one to which Dumont d'Urville gave the name of
Isle de la Recherche, and exactly facing the little harbour of Vanou,
situated in 16° 4' S. lat., and 164° 32' E. long.  The earth
seemed covered with verdure from the shore to the summits in the
interior, that were crowned by Mount Kapogo, 476 feet high.  The
Nautilus, having passed the outer belt of rocks by a narrow strait,
found itself among breakers where the sea was from thirty to forty
fathoms deep.  Under the verdant shade of some mangroves I perceived
some savages, who appeared greatly surprised at our approach.  In the
long black body, moving between wind and water, did they not see some
formidable cetacean that they regarded with suspicion?

Just then Captain Nemo asked me what I knew about the wreck of La
Perouse.

"Only what everyone knows, Captain," I replied.

"And could you tell me what everyone knows about it?" he inquired,
ironically.

"Easily."

I related to him all that the last works of Dumont d'Urville had made
known--works from which the following is a brief account.

La Perouse, and his second, Captain de Langle, were sent by Louis XVI,
in 1785, on a voyage of circumnavigation.  They embarked in the
corvettes Boussole and the Astrolabe, neither of which were again heard
of.  In 1791, the French Government, justly uneasy as to the fate of
these two sloops, manned two large merchantmen, the Recherche and the
Esperance, which left Brest the 28th of September under the command of
Bruni d'Entrecasteaux.

Two months after, they learned from Bowen, commander of the Albemarle,
that the debris of shipwrecked vessels had been seen on the coasts of
New Georgia.  But D'Entrecasteaux, ignoring this communication--rather
uncertain, besides--directed his course towards the Admiralty Islands,
mentioned in a report of Captain Hunter's as being the place where La
Perouse was wrecked.

They sought in vain.  The Esperance and the Recherche passed before
Vanikoro without stopping there, and, in fact, this voyage was most
disastrous, as it cost D'Entrecasteaux his life, and those of two of
his lieutenants, besides several of his crew.

Captain Dillon, a shrewd old Pacific sailor, was the first to find
unmistakable traces of the wrecks.  On the 15th of May, 1824, his
vessel, the St. Patrick, passed close to Tikopia, one of the New
Hebrides.  There a Lascar came alongside in a canoe, sold him the
handle of a sword in silver that bore the print of characters engraved
on the hilt.  The Lascar pretended that six years before, during a stay
at Vanikoro, he had seen two Europeans that belonged to some vessels
that had run aground on the reefs some years ago.

Dillon guessed that he meant La Perouse, whose disappearance had
troubled the whole world.  He tried to get on to Vanikoro, where,
according to the Lascar, he would find numerous debris of the wreck,
but winds and tides prevented him.

Dillon returned to Calcutta.  There he interested the Asiatic Society
and the Indian Company in his discovery.  A vessel, to which was given
the name of the Recherche, was put at his disposal, and he set out,
23rd January, 1827, accompanied by a French agent.

The Recherche, after touching at several points in the Pacific, cast
anchor before Vanikoro, 7th July, 1827, in that same harbour of Vanou
where the Nautilus was at this time.

There it collected numerous relics of the wreck--iron utensils,
anchors, pulley-strops, swivel-guns, an 18 lb. shot, fragments of
astronomical instruments, a piece of crown work, and a bronze clock,
bearing this inscription--"Bazin m'a fait," the mark of the foundry of
the arsenal at Brest about 1785.  There could be no further doubt.

Dillon, having made all inquiries, stayed in the unlucky place till
October.  Then he quitted Vanikoro, and directed his course towards New
Zealand; put into Calcutta, 7th April, 1828, and returned to France,
where he was warmly welcomed by Charles X.

But at the same time, without knowing Dillon's movements, Dumont
d'Urville had already set out to find the scene of the wreck.  And they
had learned from a whaler that some medals and a cross of St. Louis had
been found in the hands of some savages of Louisiade and New Caledonia.
Dumont d'Urville, commander of the Astrolabe, had then sailed, and two
months after Dillon had left Vanikoro he put into Hobart Town.  There
he learned the results of Dillon's inquiries, and found that a certain
James Hobbs, second lieutenant of the Union of Calcutta, after landing
on an island situated 8° 18' S. lat., and 156° 30' E. long.,
had seen some iron bars and red stuffs used by the natives of these
parts.  Dumont d'Urville, much perplexed, and not knowing how to credit
the reports of low-class journals, decided to follow Dillon's track.

On the 10th of February, 1828, the Astrolabe appeared off Tikopia, and
took as guide and interpreter a deserter found on the island; made his
way to Vanikoro, sighted it on the 12th inst., lay among the reefs
until the 14th, and not until the 20th did he cast anchor within the
barrier in the harbour of Vanou.

On the 23rd, several officers went round the island and brought back
some unimportant trifles.  The natives, adopting a system of denials
and evasions, refused to take them to the unlucky place.  This
ambiguous conduct led them to believe that the natives had ill-treated
the castaways, and indeed they seemed to fear that Dumont d'Urville had
come to avenge La Perouse and his unfortunate crew.

However, on the 26th, appeased by some presents, and understanding that
they had no reprisals to fear, they led M. Jacquireot to the scene of
the wreck.

There, in three or four fathoms of water, between the reefs of Pacou
and Vanou, lay anchors, cannons, pigs of lead and iron, embedded in the
limy concretions.  The large boat and the whaler belonging to the
Astrolabe were sent to this place, and, not without some difficulty,
their crews hauled up an anchor weighing 1,800 lbs., a brass gun, some
pigs of iron, and two copper swivel-guns.

Dumont d'Urville, questioning the natives, learned too that La Perouse,
after losing both his vessels on the reefs of this island, had
constructed a smaller boat, only to be lost a second time.  Where, no
one knew.

But the French Government, fearing that Dumont d'Urville was not
acquainted with Dillon's movements, had sent the sloop Bayonnaise,
commanded by Legoarant de Tromelin, to Vanikoro, which had been
stationed on the west coast of America.  The Bayonnaise cast her anchor
before Vanikoro some months after the departure of the Astrolabe, but
found no new document; but stated that the savages had respected the
monument to La Perouse.  That is the substance of what I told Captain
Nemo.

"So," he said, "no one knows now where the third vessel perished that
was constructed by the castaways on the island of Vanikoro?"

"No one knows."

Captain Nemo said nothing, but signed to me to follow him into the
large saloon.  The Nautilus sank several yards below the waves, and the
panels were opened.

I hastened to the aperture, and under the crustations of coral, covered
with fungi, syphonules, alcyons, madrepores, through myriads of
charming fish--girelles, glyphisidri, pompherides, diacopes, and
holocentres--I recognised certain debris that the drags had not been
able to tear up--iron stirrups, anchors, cannons, bullets, capstan
fittings, the stem of a ship, all objects clearly proving the wreck of
some vessel, and now carpeted with living flowers. While I was looking
on this desolate scene, Captain Nemo said, in a sad voice:

"Commander La Perouse set out 7th December, 1785, with his vessels La
Boussole and the Astrolabe.  He first cast anchor at Botany Bay,
visited the Friendly Isles, New Caledonia, then directed his course
towards Santa Cruz, and put into Namouka, one of the Hapai group.  Then
his vessels struck on the unknown reefs of Vanikoro.  The Boussole,
which went first, ran aground on the southerly coast.  The Astrolabe
went to its help, and ran aground too.  The first vessel was destroyed
almost immediately.  The second, stranded under the wind, resisted some
days.  The natives made the castaways welcome.  They installed
themselves in the island, and constructed a smaller boat with the
debris of the two large ones.  Some sailors stayed willingly at
Vanikoro; the others, weak and ill, set out with La Perouse.  They
directed their course towards the Solomon Islands, and there perished,
with everything, on the westerly coast of the chief island of the
group, between Capes Deception and Satisfaction."

"How do you know that?"

"By this, that I found on the spot where was the last wreck."

Captain Nemo showed me a tin-plate box, stamped with the French arms,
and corroded by the salt water.  He opened it, and I saw a bundle of
papers, yellow but still readable.

They were the instructions of the naval minister to Commander La
Perouse, annotated in the margin in Louis XVI's handwriting.

"Ah! it is a fine death for a sailor!" said Captain Nemo, at last.  "A
coral tomb makes a quiet grave; and I trust that I and my comrades will
find no other."



CHAPTER XIX

TORRES STRAITS

During the night of the 27th or 28th of December, the Nautilus left the
shores of Vanikoro with great speed.  Her course was south-westerly,
and in three days she had gone over the 750 leagues that separated it
from La Perouse's group and the south-east point of Papua.

Early on the 1st of January, 1863, Conseil joined me on the platform.

"Master, will you permit me to wish you a happy New Year?"

"What!  Conseil; exactly as if I was at Paris in my study at the Jardin
des Plantes?  Well, I accept your good wishes, and thank you for them.
Only, I will ask you what you mean by a `Happy New Year' under our
circumstances?  Do you mean the year that will bring us to the end of
our imprisonment, or the year that sees us continue this strange
voyage?"

"Really, I do not know how to answer, master.  We are sure to see
curious things, and for the last two months we have not had time for
dullness.  The last marvel is always the most astonishing; and, if we
continue this progression, I do not know how it will end.  It is my
opinion that we shall never again see the like.  I think then, with no
offence to master, that a happy year would be one in which we could see
everything."

On 2nd January we had made 11,340 miles, or 5,250 French leagues, since
our starting-point in the Japan Seas.  Before the ship's head stretched
the dangerous shores of the coral sea, on the north-east coast of
Australia.  Our boat lay along some miles from the redoubtable bank on
which Cook's vessel was lost, 10th June, 1770.  The boat in which Cook
was struck on a rock, and, if it did not sink, it was owing to a piece
of coral that was broken by the shock, and fixed itself in the broken
keel.

I had wished to visit the reef, 360 leagues long, against which the
sea, always rough, broke with great violence, with a noise like
thunder.  But just then the inclined planes drew the Nautilus down to a
great depth, and I could see nothing of the high coral walls.  I had to
content myself with the different specimens of fish brought up by the
nets.  I remarked, among others, some germons, a species of mackerel as
large as a tunny, with bluish sides, and striped with transverse bands,
that disappear with the animal's life.

These fish followed us in shoals, and furnished us with very delicate
food. We took also a large number of gilt-heads, about one and a half
inches long, tasting like dorys; and flying pyrapeds like submarine
swallows, which, in dark nights, light alternately the air and water
with their phosphorescent light. Among the molluscs and zoophytes, I
found in the meshes of the net several species of alcyonarians, echini,
hammers, spurs, dials, cerites, and hyalleae. The flora was represented
by beautiful floating seaweeds, laminariae, and macrocystes,
impregnated with the mucilage that transudes through their pores; and
among which I gathered an admirable Nemastoma Geliniarois, that was
classed among the natural curiosities of the museum.

Two days after crossing the coral sea, 4th January, we sighted the
Papuan coasts.  On this occasion, Captain Nemo informed me that his
intention was to get into the Indian Ocean by the Strait of Torres.
His communication ended there.

The Torres Straits are nearly thirty-four leagues wide; but they are
obstructed by an innumerable quantity of islands, islets, breakers, and
rocks, that make its navigation almost impracticable; so that Captain
Nemo took all needful precautions to cross them.  The Nautilus,
floating betwixt wind and water, went at a moderate pace.  Her screw,
like a cetacean's tail, beat the waves slowly.

Profiting by this, I and my two companions went up on to the deserted
platform.  Before us was the steersman's cage, and I expected that
Captain Nemo was there directing the course of the Nautilus.  I had
before me the excellent charts of the Straits of Torres, and I
consulted them attentively.  Round the Nautilus the sea dashed
furiously.  The course of the waves, that went from south-east to
north-west at the rate of two and a half miles, broke on the coral that
showed itself here and there.

"This is a bad sea!" remarked Ned Land.

"Detestable indeed, and one that does not suit a boat like the
Nautilus."

"The Captain must be very sure of his route, for I see there pieces of
coral that would do for its keel if it only touched them slightly."

Indeed the situation was dangerous, but the Nautilus seemed to slide
like magic off these rocks.  It did not follow the routes of the
Astrolabe and the Zelee exactly, for they proved fatal to Dumont
d'Urville. It bore more northwards, coasted the Islands of Murray, and
came back to the south-west towards Cumberland Passage.  I thought it
was going to pass it by, when, going back to north-west, it went
through a large quantity of islands and islets little known, towards
the Island Sound and Canal Mauvais.

I wondered if Captain Nemo, foolishly imprudent, would steer his vessel
into that pass where Dumont d'Urville's two corvettes touched; when,
swerving again, and cutting straight through to the west, he steered
for the Island of Gilboa.

It was then three in the afternoon.  The tide began to recede, being
quite full.  The Nautilus approached the island, that I still saw, with
its remarkable border of screw-pines. He stood off it at about two
miles distant.  Suddenly a shock overthrew me.  The Nautilus just
touched a rock, and stayed immovable, laying lightly to port side.

When I rose, I perceived Captain Nemo and his lieutenant on the
platform.  They were examining the situation of the vessel, and
exchanging words in their incomprehensible dialect.

She was situated thus:  Two miles, on the starboard side, appeared
Gilboa, stretching from north to west like an immense arm.  Towards the
south and east some coral showed itself, left by the ebb.  We had run
aground, and in one of those seas where the tides are middling--a sorry
matter for the floating of the Nautilus.  However, the vessel had not
suffered, for her keel was solidly joined.  But, if she could neither
glide off nor move, she ran the risk of being for ever fastened to
these rocks, and then Captain Nemo's submarine vessel would be done for.

I was reflecting thus, when the Captain, cool and calm, always master
of himself, approached me.

"An accident?"  I asked.

"No; an incident."

"But an incident that will oblige you perhaps to become an inhabitant
of this land from which you flee?"

Captain Nemo looked at me curiously, and made a negative gesture, as
much as to say that nothing would force him to set foot on terra firma
again.  Then he said:

"Besides, M. Aronnax, the Nautilus is not lost; it will carry you yet
into the midst of the marvels of the ocean.  Our voyage is only begun,
and I do not wish to be deprived so soon of the honour of your company."

"However, Captain Nemo," I replied, without noticing the ironical turn
of his phrase, "the Nautilus ran aground in open sea.  Now the tides
are not strong in the Pacific; and, if you cannot lighten the Nautilus,
I do not see how it will be reinflated."

"The tides are not strong in the Pacific:  you are right there,
Professor; but in Torres Straits one finds still a difference of a yard
and a half between the level of high and low seas.  To-day is 4th
January, and in five days the moon will be full.  Now, I shall be very
much astonished if that satellite does not raise these masses of water
sufficiently, and render me a service that I should be indebted to her
for."

Having said this, Captain Nemo, followed by his lieutenant, redescended
to the interior of the Nautilus.  As to the vessel, it moved not, and
was immovable, as if the coralline polypi had already walled it up with
their in destructible cement.

"Well, sir?" said Ned Land, who came up to me after the departure of
the Captain.

"Well, friend Ned, we will wait patiently for the tide on the 9th
instant; for it appears that the moon will have the goodness to put it
off again."

"Really?"

"Really."

"And this Captain is not going to cast anchor at all since the tide
will suffice?" said Conseil, simply.

The Canadian looked at Conseil, then shrugged his shoulders.

"Sir, you may believe me when I tell you that this piece of iron will
navigate neither on nor under the sea again; it is only fit to be sold
for its weight.  I think, therefore, that the time has come to part
company with Captain Nemo."

"Friend Ned, I do not despair of this stout Nautilus, as you do; and in
four days we shall know what to hold to on the Pacific tides.  Besides,
flight might be possible if we were in sight of the English or
Provencal coast; but on the Papuan shores, it is another thing; and it
will be time enough to come to that extremity if the Nautilus does not
recover itself again, which I look upon as a grave event."

"But do they know, at least, how to act circumspectly?  There is an
island; on that island there are trees; under those trees, terrestrial
animals, bearers of cutlets and roast beef, to which I would willingly
give a trial."

"In this, friend Ned is right," said Conseil, "and I agree with him.
Could not master obtain permission from his friend Captain Nemo to put
us on land, if only so as not to lose the habit of treading on the
solid parts of our planet?"

"I can ask him, but he will refuse."

"Will master risk it?" asked Conseil, "and we shall know how to rely
upon the Captain's amiability."

To my great surprise, Captain Nemo gave me the permission I asked for,
and he gave it very agreeably, without even exacting from me a promise
to return to the vessel; but flight across New Guinea might be very
perilous, and I should not have counselled Ned Land to attempt it.
Better to be a prisoner on board the Nautilus than to fall into the
hands of the natives.

At eight o'clock, armed with guns and hatchets, we got off the
Nautilus.  The sea was pretty calm; a slight breeze blew on land.
Conseil and I rowing, we sped along quickly, and Ned steered in the
straight passage that the breakers left between them.  The boat was
well handled, and moved rapidly.

Ned Land could not restrain his joy.  He was like a prisoner that had
escaped from prison, and knew not that it was necessary to re-enter it.

"Meat!  We are going to eat some meat; and what meat!" he replied.
"Real game! no, bread, indeed."

"I do not say that fish is not good; we must not abuse it; but a piece
of fresh venison, grilled on live coals, will agreeably vary our
ordinary course."

"Glutton!" said Conseil, "he makes my mouth water."

"It remains to be seen," I said, "if these forests are full of game,
and if the game is not such as will hunt the hunter himself."

"Well said, M. Aronnax," replied the Canadian, whose teeth seemed
sharpened like the edge of a hatchet; "but I will eat tiger--loin of
tiger--if there is no other quadruped on this island."

"Friend Ned is uneasy about it," said Conseil.

"Whatever it may be," continued Ned Land, "every animal with four paws
without feathers, or with two paws without feathers, will be saluted by
my first shot."

"Very well!  Master Land's imprudences are beginning."

"Never fear, M. Aronnax," replied the Canadian; "I do not want
twenty-five minutes to offer you a dish, of my sort."

At half-past eight the Nautilus boat ran softly aground on a heavy
sand, after having happily passed the coral reef that surrounds the
Island of Gilboa.



CHAPTER XX

A FEW DAYS ON LAND

I was much impressed on touching land.  Ned Land tried the soil with
his feet, as if to take possession of it.  However, it was only two
months before that we had become, according to Captain Nemo,
"passengers on board the Nautilus," but, in reality, prisoners of its
commander.

In a few minutes we were within musket-shot of the coast.  The whole
horizon was hidden behind a beautiful curtain of forests.  Enormous
trees, the trunks of which attained a height of 200 feet, were tied to
each other by garlands of bindweed, real natural hammocks, which a
light breeze rocked.  They were mimosas, figs, hibisci, and palm trees,
mingled together in profusion; and under the shelter of their verdant
vault grew orchids, leguminous plants, and ferns.

But, without noticing all these beautiful specimens of Papuan flora,
the Canadian abandoned the agreeable for the useful.  He discovered a
coco-tree, beat down some of the fruit, broke them, and we drunk the
milk and ate the nut with a satisfaction that protested against the
ordinary food on the Nautilus.

"Excellent!" said Ned Land.

"Exquisite!" replied Conseil.

"And I do not think," said the Canadian, "that he would object to our
introducing a cargo of coco-nuts on board."

"I do not think he would, but he would not taste them."

"So much the worse for him," said Conseil.

"And so much the better for us," replied Ned Land.  "There will be more
for us."

"One word only, Master Land," I said to the harpooner, who was
beginning to ravage another coco-nut tree.  "Coco-nuts are good things,
but before filling the canoe with them it would be wise to reconnoitre
and see if the island does not produce some substance not less useful.
Fresh vegetables would be welcome on board the Nautilus."

"Master is right," replied Conseil; "and I propose to reserve three
places in our vessel, one for fruits, the other for vegetables, and the
third for the venison, of which I have not yet seen the smallest
specimen."

"Conseil, we must not despair," said the Canadian.

"Let us continue," I returned, "and lie in wait.  Although the island
seems uninhabited, it might still contain some individuals that would
be less hard than we on the nature of game."

"Ho! ho!" said Ned Land, moving his jaws significantly.

"Well, Ned!" said Conseil.

"My word!" returned the Canadian, "I begin to understand the charms of
anthropophagy."

"Ned!  Ned! what are you saying?  You, a man-eater? I should not feel
safe with you, especially as I share your cabin.  I might perhaps wake
one day to find myself half devoured."

"Friend Conseil, I like you much, but not enough to eat you
unnecessarily."

"I would not trust you," replied Conseil.  "But enough.  We must
absolutely bring down some game to satisfy this cannibal, or else one
of these fine mornings, master will find only pieces of his servant to
serve him."

While we were talking thus, we were penetrating the sombre arches of
the forest, and for two hours we surveyed it in all directions.

Chance rewarded our search for eatable vegetables, and one of the most
useful products of the tropical zones furnished us with precious food
that we missed on board.  I would speak of the bread-fruit tree, very
abundant in the island of Gilboa; and I remarked chiefly the variety
destitute of seeds, which bears in Malaya the name of "rima."

Ned Land knew these fruits well.  He had already eaten many during his
numerous voyages, and he knew how to prepare the eatable substance.
Moreover, the sight of them excited him, and he could contain himself
no longer.

"Master," he said, "I shall die if I do not taste a little of this
bread-fruit pie."

"Taste it, friend Ned--taste it as you want.  We are here to make
experiments--make them."

"It won't take long," said the Canadian.

And, provided with a lentil, he lighted a fire of dead wood that
crackled joyously.  During this time, Conseil and I chose the best
fruits of the bread-fruit. Some had not then attained a sufficient
degree of maturity; and their thick skin covered a white but rather
fibrous pulp.  Others, the greater number yellow and gelatinous, waited
only to be picked.

These fruits enclosed no kernel.  Conseil brought a dozen to Ned Land,
who placed them on a coal fire, after having cut them in thick slices,
and while doing this repeating:

"You will see, master, how good this bread is.  More so when one has
been deprived of it so long.  It is not even bread," added he, "but a
delicate pastry.  You have eaten none, master?"

"No, Ned."

"Very well, prepare yourself for a juicy thing.  If you do not come for
more, I am no longer the king of harpooners."

After some minutes, the part of the fruits that was exposed to the fire
was completely roasted.  The interior looked like a white pasty, a sort
of soft crumb, the flavour of which was like that of an artichoke.

It must be confessed this bread was excellent, and I ate of it with
great relish.

"What time is it now?" asked the Canadian.

"Two o'clock at least," replied Conseil.

"How time flies on firm ground!" sighed Ned Land.

"Let us be off," replied Conseil.

We returned through the forest, and completed our collection by a raid
upon the cabbage-palms, that we gathered from the tops of the trees,
little beans that I recognised as the "abrou" of the Malays, and yams
of a superior quality.

We were loaded when we reached the boat.  But Ned Land did not find his
provisions sufficient.  Fate, however, favoured us.  Just as we were
pushing off, he perceived several trees, from twenty-five to thirty
feet high, a species of palm-tree.

At last, at five o'clock in the evening, loaded with our riches, we
quitted the shore, and half an hour after we hailed the Nautilus.  No
one appeared on our arrival.  The enormous iron-plated cylinder seemed
deserted.  The provisions embarked, I descended to my chamber, and
after supper slept soundly.

The next day, 6th January, nothing new on board.  Not a sound inside,
not a sign of life.  The boat rested along the edge, in the same place
in which we had left it.  We resolved to return to the island.  Ned
Land hoped to be more fortunate than on the day before with regard to
the hunt, and wished to visit another part of the forest.

At dawn we set off.  The boat, carried on by the waves that flowed to
shore, reached the island in a few minutes.

We landed, and, thinking that it was better to give in to the Canadian,
we followed Ned Land, whose long limbs threatened to distance us.  He
wound up the coast towards the west:  then, fording some torrents, he
gained the high plain that was bordered with admirable forests.  Some
kingfishers were rambling along the water-courses, but they would not
let themselves be approached.  Their circumspection proved to me that
these birds knew what to expect from bipeds of our species, and I
concluded that, if the island was not inhabited, at least human beings
occasionally frequented it.

After crossing a rather large prairie, we arrived at the skirts of a
little wood that was enlivened by the songs and flight of a large
number of birds.

"There are only birds," said Conseil.

"But they are eatable," replied the harpooner.

"I do not agree with you, friend Ned, for I see only parrots there."

"Friend Conseil," said Ned, gravely, "the parrot is like pheasant to
those who have nothing else."

"And," I added, "this bird, suitably prepared, is worth knife and fork."

Indeed, under the thick foliage of this wood, a world of parrots were
flying from branch to branch, only needing a careful education to speak
the human language.  For the moment, they were chattering with parrots
of all colours, and grave cockatoos, who seemed to meditate upon some
philosophical problem, whilst brilliant red lories passed like a piece
of bunting carried away by the breeze, papuans, with the finest azure
colours, and in all a variety of winged things most charming to behold,
but few eatable.

However, a bird peculiar to these lands, and which has never passed the
limits of the Arrow and Papuan islands, was wanting in this collection.
But fortune reserved it for me before long.

After passing through a moderately thick copse, we found a plain
obstructed with bushes.  I saw then those magnificent birds, the
disposition of whose long feathers obliges them to fly against the
wind.  Their undulating flight, graceful aerial curves, and the shading
of their colours, attracted and charmed one's looks.  I had no trouble
in recognising them.

"Birds of paradise!"  I exclaimed.

The Malays, who carry on a great trade in these birds with the Chinese,
have several means that we could not employ for taking them.  Sometimes
they put snares on the top of high trees that the birds of paradise
prefer to frequent.  Sometimes they catch them with a viscous birdlime
that paralyses their movements.  They even go so far as to poison the
fountains that the birds generally drink from.  But we were obliged to
fire at them during flight, which gave us few chances to bring them
down; and, indeed, we vainly exhausted one half our ammunition.

About eleven o'clock in the morning, the first range of mountains that
form the centre of the island was traversed, and we had killed nothing.
Hunger drove us on.  The hunters had relied on the products of the
chase, and they were wrong.  Happily Conseil, to his great surprise,
made a double shot and secured breakfast.  He brought down a white
pigeon and a wood-pigeon, which, cleverly plucked and suspended from a
skewer, was roasted before a red fire of dead wood.  While these
interesting birds were cooking, Ned prepared the fruit of the
bread-tree. Then the wood-pigeons were devoured to the bones, and
declared excellent.  The nutmeg, with which they are in the habit of
stuffing their crops, flavours their flesh and renders it delicious
eating.

"Now, Ned, what do you miss now?"

"Some four-footed game, M. Aronnax.  All these pigeons are only
side-dishes and trifles; and until I have killed an animal with cutlets
I shall not be content."

"Nor I, Ned, if I do not catch a bird of paradise."

"Let us continue hunting," replied Conseil.  "Let us go towards the
sea.  We have arrived at the first declivities of the mountains, and I
think we had better regain the region of forests."

That was sensible advice, and was followed out.  After walking for one
hour we had attained a forest of sago-trees. Some inoffensive serpents
glided away from us.  The birds of paradise fled at our approach, and
truly I despaired of getting near one when Conseil, who was walking in
front, suddenly bent down, uttered a triumphal cry, and came back to me
bringing a magnificent specimen.

"Ah! bravo, Conseil!"

"Master is very good."

"No, my boy; you have made an excellent stroke.  Take one of these
living birds, and carry it in your hand."

"If master will examine it, he will see that I have not deserved great
merit."

"Why, Conseil?"

"Because this bird is as drunk as a quail."

"Drunk!"

"Yes, sir; drunk with the nutmegs that it devoured under the
nutmeg-tree, under which I found it.  See, friend Ned, see the
monstrous effects of intemperance!"

"By Jove!" exclaimed the Canadian, "because I have drunk gin for two
months, you must needs reproach me!"

However, I examined the curious bird.  Conseil was right.  The bird,
drunk with the juice, was quite powerless.  It could not fly; it could
hardly walk.

This bird belonged to the most beautiful of the eight species that are
found in Papua and in the neighbouring islands.  It was the "large
emerald bird, the most rare kind." It measured three feet in length.
Its head was comparatively small, its eyes placed near the opening of
the beak, and also small.  But the shades of colour were beautiful,
having a yellow beak, brown feet and claws, nut-coloured wings with
purple tips, pale yellow at the back of the neck and head, and emerald
colour at the throat, chestnut on the breast and belly.  Two horned,
downy nets rose from below the tail, that prolonged the long light
feathers of admirable fineness, and they completed the whole of this
marvellous bird, that the natives have poetically named the "bird of
the sun."

But if my wishes were satisfied by the possession of the bird of
paradise, the Canadian's were not yet.  Happily, about two o'clock, Ned
Land brought down a magnificent hog; from the brood of those the
natives call "bari-outang." The animal came in time for us to procure
real quadruped meat, and he was well received.  Ned Land was very proud
of his shot.  The hog, hit by the electric ball, fell stone dead.  The
Canadian skinned and cleaned it properly, after having taken half a
dozen cutlets, destined to furnish us with a grilled repast in the
evening.  Then the hunt was resumed, which was still more marked by Ned
and Conseil's exploits.

Indeed, the two friends, beating the bushes, roused a herd of kangaroos
that fled and bounded along on their elastic paws.  But these animals
did not take to flight so rapidly but what the electric capsule could
stop their course.

"Ah, Professor!" cried Ned Land, who was carried away by the delights
of the chase, "what excellent game, and stewed, too!  What a supply for
the Nautilus!  Two! three! five down!  And to think that we shall eat
that flesh, and that the idiots on board shall not have a crumb!"

I think that, in the excess of his joy, the Canadian, if he had not
talked so much, would have killed them all.  But he contented himself
with a single dozen of these interesting marsupians.  These animals
were small.  They were a species of those "kangaroo rabbits" that live
habitually in the hollows of trees, and whose speed is extreme; but
they are moderately fat, and furnish, at least, estimable food.  We
were very satisfied with the results of the hunt.  Happy Ned proposed
to return to this enchanting island the next day, for he wished to
depopulate it of all the eatable quadrupeds.  But he had reckoned
without his host.

At six o'clock in the evening we had regained the shore; our boat was
moored to the usual place.  The Nautilus, like a long rock, emerged
from the waves two miles from the beach.  Ned Land, without waiting,
occupied himself about the important dinner business.  He understood
all about cooking well.  The "bari-outang," grilled on the coals, soon
scented the air with a delicious odour.

Indeed, the dinner was excellent.  Two wood-pigeons completed this
extraordinary menu.  The sago pasty, the artocarpus bread, some
mangoes, half a dozen pineapples, and the liquor fermented from some
coco-nuts, overjoyed us.  I even think that my worthy companions' ideas
had not all the plainness desirable.

"Suppose we do not return to the Nautilus this evening?" said Conseil.

"Suppose we never return?" added Ned Land.

Just then a stone fell at our feet and cut short the harpooner's
proposition.



CHAPTER XXI

CAPTAIN NEMO'S THUNDERBOLT

We looked at the edge of the forest without rising, my hand stopping in
the action of putting it to my mouth, Ned Land's completing its office.

"Stones do not fall from the sky," remarked Conseil, "or they would
merit the name aerolites."

A second stone, carefully aimed, that made a savoury pigeon's leg fall
from Conseil's hand, gave still more weight to his observation.  We all
three arose, shouldered our guns, and were ready to reply to any attack.

"Are they apes?" cried Ned Land.

"Very nearly--they are savages."

"To the boat!"  I said, hurrying to the sea.

It was indeed necessary to beat a retreat, for about twenty natives
armed with bows and slings appeared on the skirts of a copse that
masked the horizon to the right, hardly a hundred steps from us.

Our boat was moored about sixty feet from us.  The savages approached
us, not running, but making hostile demonstrations.  Stones and arrows
fell thickly.

Ned Land had not wished to leave his provisions; and, in spite of his
imminent danger, his pig on one side and kangaroos on the other, he
went tolerably fast.  In two minutes we were on the shore.  To load the
boat with provisions and arms, to push it out to sea, and ship the
oars, was the work of an instant.  We had not gone two cable-lengths,
when a hundred savages, howling and gesticulating, entered the water up
to their waists.  I watched to see if their apparition would attract
some men from the Nautilus on to the platform.  But no.  The enormous
machine, lying off, was absolutely deserted.

Twenty minutes later we were on board.  The panels were open.  After
making the boat fast, we entered into the interior of the Nautilus.

I descended to the drawing-room, from whence I heard some chords.
Captain Nemo was there, bending over his organ, and plunged in a
musical ecstasy.

"Captain!"

He did not hear me.

"Captain!"  I said, touching his hand.

He shuddered, and, turning round, said, "Ah! it is you, Professor?
Well, have you had a good hunt, have you botanised successfully?"

"Yes Captain; but we have unfortunately brought a troop of bipeds,
whose vicinity troubles me."

"What bipeds?"

"Savages."

"Savages!" he echoed, ironically.  "So you are astonished, Professor,
at having set foot on a strange land and finding savages?  Savages!
where are there not any?  Besides, are they worse than others, these
whom you call savages?"

"But Captain----"

"How many have you counted?"

"A hundred at least."

"M. Aronnax," replied Captain Nemo, placing his fingers on the organ
stops, "when all the natives of Papua are assembled on this shore, the
Nautilus will have nothing to fear from their attacks."

The Captain's fingers were then running over the keys of the
instrument, and I remarked that he touched only the black keys, which
gave his melodies an essentially Scotch character.  Soon he had
forgotten my presence, and had plunged into a reverie that I did not
disturb.  I went up again on to the platform: night had already fallen;
for, in this low latitude, the sun sets rapidly and without twilight.
I could only see the island indistinctly; but the numerous fires,
lighted on the beach, showed that the natives did not think of leaving
it.  I was alone for several hours, sometimes thinking of the
natives--but without any dread of them, for the imperturbable
confidence of the Captain was catching--sometimes forgetting them to
admire the splendours of the night in the tropics.  My remembrances
went to France in the train of those zodiacal stars that would shine in
some hours' time.  The moon shone in the midst of the constellations of
the zenith.

The night slipped away without any mischance, the islanders frightened
no doubt at the sight of a monster aground in the bay.  The panels were
open, and would have offered an easy access to the interior of the
Nautilus.

At six o'clock in the morning of the 8th January I went up on to the
platform.  The dawn was breaking.  The island soon showed itself
through the dissipating fogs, first the shore, then the summits.

The natives were there, more numerous than on the day before--five or
six hundred perhaps--some of them, profiting by the low water, had come
on to the coral, at less than two cable-lengths from the Nautilus.  I
distinguished them easily; they were true Papuans, with athletic
figures, men of good race, large high foreheads, large, but not broad
and flat, and white teeth.  Their woolly hair, with a reddish tinge,
showed off on their black shining bodies like those of the Nubians.
From the lobes of their ears, cut and distended, hung chaplets of
bones.  Most of these savages were naked.  Amongst them, I remarked
some women, dressed from the hips to knees in quite a crinoline of
herbs, that sustained a vegetable waistband.  Some chiefs had
ornamented their necks with a crescent and collars of glass beads, red
and white; nearly all were armed with bows, arrows, and shields and
carried on their shoulders a sort of net containing those round stones
which they cast from their slings with great skill.  One of these
chiefs, rather near to the Nautilus, examined it attentively.  He was,
perhaps, a "mado" of high rank, for he was draped in a mat of
banana-leaves, notched round the edges, and set off with brilliant
colours.

I could easily have knocked down this native, who was within a short
length; but I thought that it was better to wait for real hostile
demonstrations.  Between Europeans and savages, it is proper for the
Europeans to parry sharply, not to attack.

During low water the natives roamed about near the Nautilus, but were
not troublesome; I heard them frequently repeat the word "Assai," and
by their gestures I understood that they invited me to go on land, an
invitation that I declined.

So that, on that day, the boat did not push off, to the great
displeasure of Master Land, who could not complete his provisions.

This adroit Canadian employed his time in preparing the viands and meat
that he had brought off the island.  As for the savages, they returned
to the shore about eleven o'clock in the morning, as soon as the coral
tops began to disappear under the rising tide; but I saw their numbers
had increased considerably on the shore.  Probably they came from the
neighbouring islands, or very likely from Papua.  However, I had not
seen a single native canoe.  Having nothing better to do, I thought of
dragging these beautiful limpid waters, under which I saw a profusion
of shells, zoophytes, and marine plants.  Moreover, it was the last day
that the Nautilus would pass in these parts, if it float in open sea
the next day, according to Captain Nemo's promise.

I therefore called Conseil, who brought me a little light drag, very
like those for the oyster fishery.  Now to work!  For two hours we
fished unceasingly, but without bringing up any rarities.  The drag was
filled with midas-ears, harps, melames, and particularly the most
beautiful hammers I have ever seen.  We also brought up some sea-slugs,
pearl-oysters, and a dozen little turtles that were reserved for the
pantry on board.

But just when I expected it least, I put my hand on a wonder, I might
say a natural deformity, very rarely met with.  Conseil was just
dragging, and his net came up filled with divers ordinary shells, when,
all at once, he saw me plunge my arm quickly into the net, to draw out
a shell, and heard me utter a cry.

"What is the matter, sir?" he asked in surprise.  "Has master been
bitten?"

"No, my boy; but I would willingly have given a finger for my
discovery."

"What discovery?"

"This shell," I said, holding up the object of my triumph.

"It is simply an olive porphyry, genus olive, order of the
pectinibranchidae, class of gasteropods, sub-class mollusca."

"Yes, Conseil; but, instead of being rolled from right to left, this
olive turns from left to right."

"Is it possible?"

"Yes, my boy; it is a left shell."

Shells are all right-handed, with rare exceptions; and, when by chance
their spiral is left, amateurs are ready to pay their weight in gold.

Conseil and I were absorbed in the contemplation of our treasure, and I
was promising myself to enrich the museum with it, when a stone
unfortunately thrown by a native struck against, and broke, the
precious object in Conseil's hand.  I uttered a cry of despair!
Conseil took up his gun, and aimed at a savage who was poising his
sling at ten yards from him.  I would have stopped him, but his blow
took effect and broke the bracelet of amulets which encircled the arm
of the savage.

"Conseil!" cried I. "Conseil!"

"Well, sir! do you not see that the cannibal has commenced the attack?"

"A shell is not worth the life of a man," said I.

"Ah! the scoundrel!" cried Conseil; "I would rather he had broken my
shoulder!"

Conseil was in earnest, but I was not of his opinion.  However, the
situation had changed some minutes before, and we had not perceived.  A
score of canoes surrounded the Nautilus.  These canoes, scooped out of
the trunk of a tree, long, narrow, well adapted for speed, were
balanced by means of a long bamboo pole, which floated on the water.
They were managed by skilful, half-naked paddlers, and I watched their
advance with some uneasiness.  It was evident that these Papuans had
already had dealings with the Europeans and knew their ships.  But this
long iron cylinder anchored in the bay, without masts or chimneys, what
could they think of it?  Nothing good, for at first they kept at a
respectful distance.  However, seeing it motionless, by degrees they
took courage, and sought to familiarise themselves with it.  Now this
familiarity was precisely what it was necessary to avoid.  Our arms,
which were noiseless, could only produce a moderate effect on the
savages, who have little respect for aught but blustering things.  The
thunderbolt without the reverberations of thunder would frighten man
but little, though the danger lies in the lightning, not in the noise.

At this moment the canoes approached the Nautilus, and a shower of
arrows alighted on her.

I went down to the saloon, but found no one there.  I ventured to knock
at the door that opened into the Captain's room.  "Come in," was the
answer.

I entered, and found Captain Nemo deep in algebraical calculations of
_x_ and other quantities.

"I am disturbing you," said I, for courtesy's sake.

"That is true, M. Aronnax," replied the Captain; "but I think you have
serious reasons for wishing to see me?"

"Very grave ones; the natives are surrounding us in their canoes, and
in a few minutes we shall certainly be attacked by many hundreds of
savages."

"Ah!" said Captain Nemo quietly, "they are come with their canoes?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, sir, we must close the hatches."

"Exactly, and I came to say to you----"

"Nothing can be more simple," said Captain Nemo.  And, pressing an
electric button, he transmitted an order to the ship's crew.

"It is all done, sir," said he, after some moments.  "The pinnace is
ready, and the hatches are closed.  You do not fear, I imagine, that
these gentlemen could stave in walls on which the balls of your frigate
have had no effect?"

"No, Captain; but a danger still exists."

"What is that, sir?"

"It is that to-morrow, at about this hour, we must open the hatches to
renew the air of the Nautilus.  Now, if, at this moment, the Papuans
should occupy the platform, I do not see how you could prevent them
from entering."

"Then, sir, you suppose that they will board us?"

"I am certain of it."

"Well, sir, let them come.  I see no reason for hindering them.  After
all, these Papuans are poor creatures, and I am unwilling that my visit
to the island should cost the life of a single one of these wretches."

Upon that I was going away; But Captain Nemo detained me, and asked me
to sit down by him.  He questioned me with interest about our
excursions on shore, and our hunting; and seemed not to understand the
craving for meat that possessed the Canadian.  Then the conversation
turned on various subjects, and, without being more communicative,
Captain Nemo showed himself more amiable.

Amongst other things, we happened to speak of the situation of the
Nautilus, run aground in exactly the same spot in this strait where
Dumont d'Urville was nearly lost.  Apropos of this:

"This D'Urville was one of your great sailors," said the Captain to me,
"one of your most intelligent navigators.  He is the Captain Cook of
you Frenchmen.  Unfortunate man of science, after having braved the
icebergs of the South Pole, the coral reefs of Oceania, the cannibals
of the Pacific, to perish miserably in a railway train!  If this
energetic man could have reflected during the last moments of his life,
what must have been uppermost in his last thoughts, do you suppose?"

So speaking, Captain Nemo seemed moved, and his emotion gave me a
better opinion of him.  Then, chart in hand, we reviewed the travels of
the French navigator, his voyages of circumnavigation, his double
detention at the South Pole, which led to the discovery of Adelaide and
Louis Philippe, and fixing the hydrographical bearings of the principal
islands of Oceania.

"That which your D'Urville has done on the surface of the seas," said
Captain Nemo, "that have I done under them, and more easily, more
completely than he.  The Astrolabe and the Zelee, incessantly tossed
about by the hurricane, could not be worth the Nautilus, quiet
repository of labour that she is, truly motionless in the midst of the
waters.

"To-morrow," added the Captain, rising, "to-morrow, at twenty minutes
to three p.m., the Nautilus shall float, and leave the Strait of Torres
uninjured."

Having curtly pronounced these words, Captain Nemo bowed slightly.
This was to dismiss me, and I went back to my room.

There I found Conseil, who wished to know the result of my interview
with the Captain.

"My boy," said I, "when I feigned to believe that his Nautilus was
threatened by the natives of Papua, the Captain answered me very
sarcastically.  I have but one thing to say to you: Have confidence in
him, and go to sleep in peace."

"Have you no need of my services, sir?"

"No, my friend.  What is Ned Land doing?"

"If you will excuse me, sir," answered Conseil, "friend Ned is busy
making a kangaroo-pie which will be a marvel."

I remained alone and went to bed, but slept indifferently.  I heard the
noise of the savages, who stamped on the platform, uttering deafening
cries.  The night passed thus, without disturbing the ordinary repose
of the crew.  The presence of these cannibals affected them no more
than the soldiers of a masked battery care for the ants that crawl over
its front.

At six in the morning I rose.  The hatches had not been opened.  The
inner air was not renewed, but the reservoirs, filled ready for any
emergency, were now resorted to, and discharged several cubic feet of
oxygen into the exhausted atmosphere of the Nautilus.

I worked in my room till noon, without having seen Captain Nemo, even
for an instant.  On board no preparations for departure were visible.

I waited still some time, then went into the large saloon.  The clock
marked half-past two.  In ten minutes it would be high-tide: and, if
Captain Nemo had not made a rash promise, the Nautilus would be
immediately detached.  If not, many months would pass ere she could
leave her bed of coral.

However, some warning vibrations began to be felt in the vessel.  I
heard the keel grating against the rough calcareous bottom of the coral
reef.

At five-and-twenty minutes to three, Captain Nemo appeared in the
saloon.

"We are going to start," said he.

"Ah!" replied I.

"I have given the order to open the hatches."

"And the Papuans?"

"The Papuans?" answered Captain Nemo, slightly shrugging his shoulders.

"Will they not come inside the Nautilus?"

"How?"

"Only by leaping over the hatches you have opened."

"M. Aronnax," quietly answered Captain Nemo, "they will not enter the
hatches of the Nautilus in that way, even if they were open."

I looked at the Captain.

"You do not understand?" said he.

"Hardly."

"Well, come and you will see."

I directed my steps towards the central staircase.  There Ned Land and
Conseil were slyly watching some of the ship's crew, who were opening
the hatches, while cries of rage and fearful vociferations resounded
outside.

The port lids were pulled down outside.  Twenty horrible faces
appeared.  But the first native who placed his hand on the stair-rail,
struck from behind by some invisible force, I know not what, fled,
uttering the most fearful cries and making the wildest contortions.

Ten of his companions followed him.  They met with the same fate.

Conseil was in ecstasy.  Ned Land, carried away by his violent
instincts, rushed on to the staircase.  But the moment he seized the
rail with both hands, he, in his turn, was overthrown.

"I am struck by a thunderbolt," cried he, with an oath.

This explained all.  It was no rail; but a metallic cable charged with
electricity from the deck communicating with the platform.  Whoever
touched it felt a powerful shock--and this shock would have been mortal
if Captain Nemo had discharged into the conductor the whole force of
the current.  It might truly be said that between his assailants and
himself he had stretched a network of electricity which none could pass
with impunity.

Meanwhile, the exasperated Papuans had beaten a retreat paralysed with
terror.  As for us, half laughing, we consoled and rubbed the
unfortunate Ned Land, who swore like one possessed.

But at this moment the Nautilus, raised by the last waves of the tide,
quitted her coral bed exactly at the fortieth minute fixed by the
Captain.  Her screw swept the waters slowly and majestically.  Her
speed increased gradually, and, sailing on the surface of the ocean,
she quitted safe and sound the dangerous passes of the Straits of
Torres.



CHAPTER XXII

"AEGRI SOMNIA"

The following day 10th January, the Nautilus continued her course
between two seas, but with such remarkable speed that I could not
estimate it at less than thirty-five miles an hour.  The rapidity of
her screw was such that I could neither follow nor count its
revolutions.  When I reflected that this marvellous electric agent,
after having afforded motion, heat, and light to the Nautilus, still
protected her from outward attack, and transformed her into an ark of
safety which no profane hand might touch without being thunderstricken,
my admiration was unbounded, and from the structure it extended to the
engineer who had called it into existence.

Our course was directed to the west, and on the 11th of January we
doubled Cape Wessel, situation in 135° long. and 10° S. lat.,
which forms the east point of the Gulf of Carpentaria.  The reefs were
still numerous, but more equalised, and marked on the chart with
extreme precision.  The Nautilus easily avoided the breakers of Money
to port and the Victoria reefs to starboard, placed at 130° long.
and on the 10th parallel, which we strictly followed.

On the 13th of January, Captain Nemo arrived in the Sea of Timor, and
recognised the island of that name in 122° long.

From this point the direction of the Nautilus inclined towards the
south-west. Her head was set for the Indian Ocean.  Where would the
fancy of Captain Nemo carry us next?  Would he return to the coast of
Asia or would he approach again the shores of Europe?  Improbable
conjectures both, to a man who fled from inhabited continents.  Then
would he descend to the south?  Was he going to double the Cape of Good
Hope, then Cape Horn, and finally go as far as the Antarctic pole?
Would he come back at last to the Pacific, where his Nautilus could
sail free and independently?  Time would show.

After having skirted the sands of Cartier, of Hibernia, Seringapatam,
and Scott, last efforts of the solid against the liquid element, on the
14th of January we lost sight of land altogether.  The speed of the
Nautilus was considerably abated, and with irregular course she
sometimes swam in the bosom of the waters, sometimes floated on their
surface.

During this period of the voyage, Captain Nemo made some interesting
experiments on the varied temperature of the sea, in different beds.
Under ordinary conditions these observations are made by means of
rather complicated instruments, and with somewhat doubtful results, by
means of thermometrical sounding-leads, the glasses often breaking
under the pressure of the water, or an apparatus grounded on the
variations of the resistance of metals to the electric currents.
Results so obtained could not be correctly calculated.  On the
contrary, Captain Nemo went himself to test the temperature in the
depths of the sea, and his thermometer, placed in communication with
the different sheets of water, gave him the required degree immediately
and accurately.

It was thus that, either by overloading her reservoirs or by descending
obliquely by means of her inclined planes, the Nautilus successively
attained the depth of three, four, five, seven, nine, and ten thousand
yards, and the definite result of this experience was that the sea
preserved an average temperature of four degrees and a half at a depth
of five thousand fathoms under all latitudes.

On the 16th of January, the Nautilus seemed becalmed only a few yards
beneath the surface of the waves.  Her electric apparatus remained
inactive and her motionless screw left her to drift at the mercy of the
currents.  I supposed that the crew was occupied with interior repairs,
rendered necessary by the violence of the mechanical movements of the
machine.

My companions and I then witnessed a curious spectacle.  The hatches of
the saloon were open, and, as the beacon light of the Nautilus was not
in action, a dim obscurity reigned in the midst of the waters.  I
observed the state of the sea, under these conditions, and the largest
fish appeared to me no more than scarcely defined shadows, when the
Nautilus found herself suddenly transported into full light.  I thought
at first that the beacon had been lighted, and was casting its electric
radiance into the liquid mass.  I was mistaken, and after a rapid
survey perceived my error.

The Nautilus floated in the midst of a phosphorescent bed which, in
this obscurity, became quite dazzling.  It was produced by myriads of
luminous animalculae, whose brilliancy was increased as they glided
over the metallic hull of the vessel.  I was surprised by lightning in
the midst of these luminous sheets, as though they had been rivulets of
lead melted in an ardent furnace or metallic masses brought to a white
heat, so that, by force of contrast, certain portions of light appeared
to cast a shade in the midst of the general ignition, from which all
shade seemed banished.  No; this was not the calm irradiation of our
ordinary lightning.  There was unusual life and vigour: this was truly
living light!

In reality, it was an infinite agglomeration of coloured infusoria, of
veritable globules of jelly, provided with a threadlike tentacle, and
of which as many as twenty-five thousand have been counted in less than
two cubic half-inches of water.

During several hours the Nautilus floated in these brilliant waves, and
our admiration increased as we watched the marine monsters disporting
themselves like salamanders.  I saw there in the midst of this fire
that burns not the swift and elegant porpoise (the indefatigable clown
of the ocean), and some swordfish ten feet long, those prophetic
heralds of the hurricane whose formidable sword would now and then
strike the glass of the saloon.  Then appeared the smaller fish, the
balista, the leaping mackerel, wolf-thorn-tails, and a hundred others
which striped the luminous atmosphere as they swam.  This dazzling
spectacle was enchanting!  Perhaps some atmospheric condition increased
the intensity of this phenomenon.  Perhaps some storm agitated the
surface of the waves.  But at this depth of some yards, the Nautilus
was unmoved by its fury and reposed peacefully in still water.

So we progressed, incessantly charmed by some new marvel.  The days
passed rapidly away, and I took no account of them.  Ned, according to
habit, tried to vary the diet on board.  Like snails, we were fixed to
our shells, and I declare it is easy to lead a snail's life.

Thus this life seemed easy and natural, and we thought no longer of the
life we led on land; but something happened to recall us to the
strangeness of our situation.

On the 18th of January, the Nautilus was in 105° long. and 15°
S. lat.  The weather was threatening, the sea rough and rolling.  There
was a strong east wind.  The barometer, which had been going down for
some days, foreboded a coming storm.  I went up on to the platform just
as the second lieutenant was taking the measure of the horary angles,
and waited, according to habit till the daily phrase was said.  But on
this day it was exchanged for another phrase not less incomprehensible.
Almost directly, I saw Captain Nemo appear with a glass, looking
towards the horizon.

For some minutes he was immovable, without taking his eye off the point
of observation.  Then he lowered his glass and exchanged a few words
with his lieutenant.  The latter seemed to be a victim to some emotion
that he tried in vain to repress.  Captain Nemo, having more command
over himself, was cool.  He seemed, too, to be making some objections
to which the lieutenant replied by formal assurances.  At least I
concluded so by the difference of their tones and gestures.  For
myself, I had looked carefully in the direction indicated without
seeing anything.  The sky and water were lost in the clear line of the
horizon.

However, Captain Nemo walked from one end of the platform to the other,
without looking at me, perhaps without seeing me.  His step was firm,
but less regular than usual.  He stopped sometimes, crossed his arms,
and observed the sea.  What could he be looking for on that immense
expanse?

The Nautilus was then some hundreds of miles from the nearest coast.

The lieutenant had taken up the glass and examined the horizon
steadfastly, going and coming, stamping his foot and showing more
nervous agitation than his superior officer.  Besides, this mystery
must necessarily be solved, and before long; for, upon an order from
Captain Nemo, the engine, increasing its propelling power, made the
screw turn more rapidly.

Just then the lieutenant drew the Captain's attention again.  The
latter stopped walking and directed his glass towards the place
indicated.  He looked long.  I felt very much puzzled, and descended to
the drawing-room, and took out an excellent telescope that I generally
used.  Then, leaning on the cage of the watch-light that jutted out
from the front of the platform, set myself to look over all the line of
the sky and sea.

But my eye was no sooner applied to the glass than it was quickly
snatched out of my hands.

I turned round.  Captain Nemo was before me, but I did not know him.
His face was transfigured.  His eyes flashed sullenly; his teeth were
set; his stiff body, clenched fists, and head shrunk between his
shoulders, betrayed the violent agitation that pervaded his whole
frame.  He did not move.  My glass, fallen from his hands, had rolled
at his feet.

Had I unwittingly provoked this fit of anger?  Did this
incomprehensible person imagine that I had discovered some forbidden
secret?  No; I was not the object of this hatred, for he was not
looking at me; his eye was steadily fixed upon the impenetrable point
of the horizon.  At last Captain Nemo recovered himself.  His agitation
subsided.  He addressed some words in a foreign language to his
lieutenant, then turned to me.  "M. Aronnax," he said, in rather an
imperious tone, "I require you to keep one of the conditions that bind
you to me."

"What is it, Captain?"

"You must be confined, with your companions, until I think fit to
release you."

"You are the master," I replied, looking steadily at him.  "But may I
ask you one question?"

"None, sir."

There was no resisting this imperious command, it would have been
useless.  I went down to the cabin occupied by Ned Land and Conseil,
and told them the Captain's determination.  You may judge how this
communication was received by the Canadian.

But there was not time for altercation.  Four of the crew waited at the
door, and conducted us to that cell where we had passed our first night
on board the Nautilus.

Ned Land would have remonstrated, but the door was shut upon him.

"Will master tell me what this means?" asked Conseil.

I told my companions what had passed.  They were as much astonished as
I, and equally at a loss how to account for it.

Meanwhile, I was absorbed in my own reflections, and could think of
nothing but the strange fear depicted in the Captain's countenance.  I
was utterly at a loss to account for it, when my cogitations were
disturbed by these words from Ned Land:

"Hallo! breakfast is ready."

And indeed the table was laid.  Evidently Captain Nemo had given this
order at the same time that he had hastened the speed of the Nautilus.

"Will master permit me to make a recommendation?" asked Conseil.

"Yes, my boy."

"Well, it is that master breakfasts.  It is prudent, for we do not know
what may happen."

"You are right, Conseil."

"Unfortunately," said Ned Land, "they have only given us the ship's
fare."

"Friend Ned," asked Conseil, "what would you have said if the breakfast
had been entirely forgotten?"

This argument cut short the harpooner's recriminations.

We sat down to table.  The meal was eaten in silence.

Just then the luminous globe that lighted the cell went out, and left
us in total darkness.  Ned Land was soon asleep, and what astonished me
was that Conseil went off into a heavy slumber.  I was thinking what
could have caused his irresistible drowsiness, when I felt my brain
becoming stupefied.  In spite of my efforts to keep my eyes open, they
would close.  A painful suspicion seized me.  Evidently soporific
substances had been mixed with the food we had just taken.
Imprisonment was not enough to conceal Captain Nemo's projects from us,
sleep was more necessary.  I then heard the panels shut.  The
undulations of the sea, which caused a slight rolling motion, ceased.
Had the Nautilus quitted the surface of the ocean?  Had it gone back to
the motionless bed of water?  I tried to resist sleep.  It was
impossible.  My breathing grew weak.  I felt a mortal cold freeze my
stiffened and half-paralysed limbs.  My eye lids, like leaden caps,
fell over my eyes.  I could not raise them; a morbid sleep, full of
hallucinations, bereft me of my being.  Then the visions disappeared,
and left me in complete insensibility.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE CORAL KINGDOM

The next day I woke with my head singularly clear.  To my great
surprise, I was in my own room.  My companions, no doubt, had been
reinstated in their cabin, without having perceived it any more than I.
Of what had passed during the night they were as ignorant as I was, and
to penetrate this mystery I only reckoned upon the chances of the
future.

I then thought of quitting my room.  Was I free again or a prisoner?
Quite free.  I opened the door, went to the half-deck, went up the
central stairs.  The panels, shut the evening before, were open.  I
went on to the platform.

Ned Land and Conseil waited there for me.  I questioned them; they knew
nothing.  Lost in a heavy sleep in which they had been totally
unconscious, they had been astonished at finding themselves in their
cabin.

As for the Nautilus, it seemed quiet and mysterious as ever.  It
floated on the surface of the waves at a moderate pace.  Nothing seemed
changed on board.

The second lieutenant then came on to the platform, and gave the usual
order below.

As for Captain Nemo, he did not appear.

Of the people on board, I only saw the impassive steward, who served me
with his usual dumb regularity.

About two o'clock, I was in the drawing-room, busied in arranging my
notes, when the Captain opened the door and appeared.  I bowed.  He
made a slight inclination in return, without speaking.  I resumed my
work, hoping that he would perhaps give me some explanation of the
events of the preceding night.  He made none.  I looked at him.  He
seemed fatigued; his heavy eyes had not been refreshed by sleep; his
face looked very sorrowful.  He walked to and fro, sat down and got up
again, took a chance book, put it down, consulted his instruments
without taking his habitual notes, and seemed restless and uneasy.  At
last, he came up to me, and said:

"Are you a doctor, M. Aronnax?"

I so little expected such a question that I stared some time at him
without answering.

"Are you a doctor?" he repeated.  "Several of your colleagues have
studied medicine."

"Well," said I, "I am a doctor and resident surgeon to the hospital.  I
practised several years before entering the museum."

"Very well, sir."

My answer had evidently satisfied the Captain.  But, not knowing what
he would say next, I waited for other questions, reserving my answers
according to circumstances.

"M. Aronnax, will you consent to prescribe for one of my men?" he asked.

"Is he ill?"

"Yes."

"I am ready to follow you."

"Come, then."

I own my heart beat, I do not know why.  I saw certain connection
between the illness of one of the crew and the events of the day
before; and this mystery interested me at least as much as the sick man.

Captain Nemo conducted me to the poop of the Nautilus, and took me into
a cabin situated near the sailors' quarters.

There, on a bed, lay a man about forty years of age, with a resolute
expression of countenance, a true type of an Anglo-Saxon.

I leant over him.  He was not only ill, he was wounded.  His head,
swathed in bandages covered with blood, lay on a pillow.  I undid the
bandages, and the wounded man looked at me with his large eyes and gave
no sign of pain as I did it.  It was a horrible wound.  The skull,
shattered by some deadly weapon, left the brain exposed, which was much
injured.  Clots of blood had formed in the bruised and broken mass, in
colour like the dregs of wine.

There was both contusion and suffusion of the brain.  His breathing was
slow, and some spasmodic movements of the muscles agitated his face.  I
felt his pulse.  It was intermittent.  The extremities of the body were
growing cold already, and I saw death must inevitably ensue.  After
dressing the unfortunate man's wounds, I readjusted the bandages on his
head, and turned to Captain Nemo.

"What caused this wound?"  I asked.

"What does it signify?" he replied, evasively.  "A shock has broken one
of the levers of the engine, which struck myself.  But your opinion as
to his state?"

I hesitated before giving it.

"You may speak," said the Captain.  "This man does not understand
French."

I gave a last look at the wounded man.

"He will be dead in two hours."

"Can nothing save him?"

"Nothing."

Captain Nemo's hand contracted, and some tears glistened in his eyes,
which I thought incapable of shedding any.

For some moments I still watched the dying man, whose life ebbed
slowly.  His pallor increased under the electric light that was shed
over his death-bed. I looked at his intelligent forehead, furrowed with
premature wrinkles, produced probably by misfortune and sorrow.  I
tried to learn the secret of his life from the last words that escaped
his lips.

"You can go now, M. Aronnax," said the Captain.

I left him in the dying man's cabin, and returned to my room much
affected by this scene.  During the whole day, I was haunted by
uncomfortable suspicions, and at night I slept badly, and between my
broken dreams I fancied I heard distant sighs like the notes of a
funeral psalm.  Were they the prayers of the dead, murmured in that
language that I could not understand?

The next morning I went on to the bridge.  Captain Nemo was there
before me.  As soon as he perceived me he came to me.

"Professor, will it be convenient to you to make a submarine excursion
to-day?"

"With my companions?"  I asked.

"If they like."

"We obey your orders, Captain."

"Will you be so good then as to put on your cork jackets?"

It was not a question of dead or dying.  I rejoined Ned Land and
Conseil, and told them of Captain Nemo's proposition.  Conseil hastened
to accept it, and this time the Canadian seemed quite willing to follow
our example.

It was eight o'clock in the morning.  At half-past eight we were
equipped for this new excursion, and provided with two contrivances for
light and breathing.  The double door was open; and, accompanied by
Captain Nemo, who was followed by a dozen of the crew, we set foot, at
a depth of about thirty feet, on the solid bottom on which the Nautilus
rested.

A slight declivity ended in an uneven bottom, at fifteen fathoms depth.
This bottom differed entirely from the one I had visited on my first
excursion under the waters of the Pacific Ocean.  Here, there was no
fine sand, no submarine prairies, no sea-forest. I immediately
recognised that marvellous region in which, on that day, the Captain
did the honours to us.  It was the coral kingdom.

The light produced a thousand charming varieties, playing in the midst
of the branches that were so vividly coloured.  I seemed to see the
membraneous and cylindrical tubes tremble beneath the undulation of the
waters.  I was tempted to gather their fresh petals, ornamented with
delicate tentacles, some just blown, the others budding, while a small
fish, swimming swiftly, touched them slightly, like flights of birds.
But if my hand approached these living flowers, these animated,
sensitive plants, the whole colony took alarm.  The white petals
re-entered their red cases, the flowers faded as I looked, and the bush
changed into a block of stony knobs.

Chance had thrown me just by the most precious specimens of the
zoophyte.  This coral was more valuable than that found in the
Mediterranean, on the coasts of France, Italy and Barbary.  Its tints
justified the poetical names of "Flower of Blood," and "Froth of
Blood," that trade has given to its most beautiful productions.  Coral
is sold for L20 per ounce; and in this place the watery beds would make
the fortunes of a company of coral-divers. This precious matter, often
confused with other polypi, formed then the inextricable plots called
"macciota," and on which I noticed several beautiful specimens of pink
coral.

But soon the bushes contract, and the arborisations increase. Real
petrified thickets, long joints of fantastic architecture, were
disclosed before us. Captain Nemo placed himself under a dark gallery,
where by a slight declivity we reached a depth of a hundred yards. The
light from our lamps produced sometimes magical effects, following the
rough outlines of the natural arches and pendants disposed like
lustres, that were tipped with points of fire.

At last, after walking two hours, we had attained a depth of about
three hundred yards, that is to say, the extreme limit on which coral
begins to form.  But there was no isolated bush, nor modest brushwood,
at the bottom of lofty trees.  It was an immense forest of large
mineral vegetations, enormous petrified trees, united by garlands of
elegant sea-bindweed, all adorned with clouds and reflections.  We
passed freely under their high branches, lost in the shade of the waves.

Captain Nemo had stopped.  I and my companions halted, and, turning
round, I saw his men were forming a semi-circle round their chief.
Watching attentively, I observed that four of them carried on their
shoulders an object of an oblong shape.

We occupied, in this place, the centre of a vast glade surrounded by
the lofty foliage of the submarine forest.  Our lamps threw over this
place a sort of clear twilight that singularly elongated the shadows on
the ground.  At the end of the glade the darkness increased, and was
only relieved by little sparks reflected by the points of coral.

Ned Land and Conseil were near me.  We watched, and I thought I was
going to witness a strange scene.  On observing the ground, I saw that
it was raised in certain places by slight excrescences encrusted with
limy deposits, and disposed with a regularity that betrayed the hand of
man.

In the midst of the glade, on a pedestal of rocks roughly piled up,
stood a cross of coral that extended its long arms that one might have
thought were made of petrified blood.  Upon a sign from Captain Nemo
one of the men advanced; and at some feet from the cross he began to
dig a hole with a pickaxe that he took from his belt.  I understood
all!  This glade was a cemetery, this hole a tomb, this oblong object
the body of the man who had died in the night!  The Captain and his men
had come to bury their companion in this general resting-place, at the
bottom of this inaccessible ocean!

The grave was being dug slowly; the fish fled on all sides while their
retreat was being thus disturbed; I heard the strokes of the pickaxe,
which sparkled when it hit upon some flint lost at the bottom of the
waters.  The hole was soon large and deep enough to receive the body.
Then the bearers approached; the body, enveloped in a tissue of white
linen, was lowered into the damp grave.  Captain Nemo, with his arms
crossed on his breast, and all the friends of him who had loved them,
knelt in prayer.

The grave was then filled in with the rubbish taken from the ground,
which formed a slight mound.  When this was done, Captain Nemo and his
men rose; then, approaching the grave, they knelt again, and all
extended their hands in sign of a last adieu.  Then the funeral
procession returned to the Nautilus, passing under the arches of the
forest, in the midst of thickets, along the coral bushes, and still on
the ascent.  At last the light of the ship appeared, and its luminous
track guided us to the Nautilus.  At one o'clock we had returned.

As soon as I had changed my clothes I went up on to the platform, and,
a prey to conflicting emotions, I sat down near the binnacle.  Captain
Nemo joined me.  I rose and said to him:

"So, as I said he would, this man died in the night?"

"Yes, M. Aronnax."

"And he rests now, near his companions, in the coral cemetery?"

"Yes, forgotten by all else, but not by us.  We dug the grave, and the
polypi undertake to seal our dead for eternity." And, burying his face
quickly in his hands, he tried in vain to suppress a sob.  Then he
added:  "Our peaceful cemetery is there, some hundred feet below the
surface of the waves."

"Your dead sleep quietly, at least, Captain, out of the reach of
sharks."

"Yes, sir, of sharks and men," gravely replied the Captain.



PART TWO



CHAPTER I

THE INDIAN OCEAN

We now come to the second part of our journey under the sea.  The first
ended with the moving scene in the coral cemetery which left such a
deep impression on my mind.  Thus, in the midst of this great sea,
Captain Nemo's life was passing, even to his grave, which he had
prepared in one of its deepest abysses.  There, not one of the ocean's
monsters could trouble the last sleep of the crew of the Nautilus, of
those friends riveted to each other in death as in life.  "Nor any man,
either," had added the Captain.  Still the same fierce, implacable
defiance towards human society!

I could no longer content myself with the theory which satisfied
Conseil.

That worthy fellow persisted in seeing in the Commander of the Nautilus
one of those unknown servants who return mankind contempt for
indifference.  For him, he was a misunderstood genius who, tired of
earth's deceptions, had taken refuge in this inaccessible medium, where
he might follow his instincts freely.  To my mind, this explains but
one side of Captain Nemo's character.  Indeed, the mystery of that last
night during which we had been chained in prison, the sleep, and the
precaution so violently taken by the Captain of snatching from my eyes
the glass I had raised to sweep the horizon, the mortal wound of the
man, due to an unaccountable shock of the Nautilus, all put me on a new
track.  No; Captain Nemo was not satisfied with shunning man.  His
formidable apparatus not only suited his instinct of freedom, but
perhaps also the design of some terrible retaliation.

At this moment nothing is clear to me; I catch but a glimpse of light
amidst all the darkness, and I must confine myself to writing as events
shall dictate.

That day, the 24th of January, 1868, at noon, the second officer came
to take the altitude of the sun.  I mounted the platform, lit a cigar,
and watched the operation.  It seemed to me that the man did not
understand French; for several times I made remarks in a loud voice,
which must have drawn from him some involuntary sign of attention, if
he had understood them; but he remained undisturbed and dumb.

As he was taking observations with the sextant, one of the sailors of
the Nautilus (the strong man who had accompanied us on our first
submarine excursion to the Island of Crespo) came to clean the glasses
of the lantern.  I examined the fittings of the apparatus, the strength
of which was increased a hundredfold by lenticular rings, placed
similar to those in a lighthouse, and which projected their brilliance
in a horizontal plane.  The electric lamp was combined in such a way as
to give its most powerful light.  Indeed, it was produced in vacuo,
which insured both its steadiness and its intensity.  This vacuum
economised the graphite points between which the luminous arc was
developed--an important point of economy for Captain Nemo, who could
not easily have replaced them; and under these conditions their waste
was imperceptible.  When the Nautilus was ready to continue its
submarine journey, I went down to the saloon.  The panel was closed,
and the course marked direct west.

We were furrowing the waters of the Indian Ocean, a vast liquid plain,
with a surface of 1,200,000,000 of acres, and whose waters are so clear
and transparent that any one leaning over them would turn giddy.  The
Nautilus usually floated between fifty and a hundred fathoms deep.  We
went on so for some days.  To anyone but myself, who had a great love
for the sea, the hours would have seemed long and monotonous; but the
daily walks on the platform, when I steeped myself in the reviving air
of the ocean, the sight of the rich waters through the windows of the
saloon, the books in the library, the compiling of my memoirs, took up
all my time, and left me not a moment of ennui or weariness.

For some days we saw a great number of aquatic birds, sea-mews or
gulls.  Some were cleverly killed and, prepared in a certain way, made
very acceptable water-game. Amongst large-winged birds, carried a long
distance from all lands and resting upon the waves from the fatigue of
their flight, I saw some magnificent albatrosses, uttering discordant
cries like the braying of an ass, and birds belonging to the family of
the long-wings.

As to the fish, they always provoked our admiration when we surprised
the secrets of their aquatic life through the open panels.  I saw many
kinds which I never before had a chance of observing.

I shall notice chiefly ostracions peculiar to the Red Sea, the Indian
Ocean, and that part which washes the coast of tropical America. These
fishes, like the tortoise, the armadillo, the sea-hedgehog, and the
Crustacea, are protected by a breastplate which is neither chalky nor
stony, but real bone. In some it takes the form of a solid triangle, in
others of a solid quadrangle. Amongst the triangular I saw some an inch
and a half in length, with wholesome flesh and a delicious flavour;
they are brown at the tail, and yellow at the fins, and I recommend
their introduction into fresh water, to which a certain number of
sea-fish easily accustom themselves. I would also mention quadrangular
ostracions, having on the back four large tubercles; some dotted over
with white spots on the lower part of the body, and which may be tamed
like birds; trigons provided with spikes formed by the lengthening of
their bony shell, and which, from their strange gruntings, are called
"seapigs"; also dromedaries with large humps in the shape of a cone,
whose flesh is very tough and leathery.

I now borrow from the daily notes of Master Conseil. "Certain fish of
the genus petrodon peculiar to those seas, with red backs and white
chests, which are distinguished by three rows of longitudinal
filaments; and some electrical, seven inches long, decked in the
liveliest colours.  Then, as specimens of other kinds, some ovoides,
resembling an egg of a dark brown colour, marked with white bands, and
without tails; diodons, real sea-porcupines, furnished with spikes, and
capable of swelling in such a way as to look like cushions bristling
with darts; hippocampi, common to every ocean; some pegasi with
lengthened snouts, which their pectoral fins, being much elongated and
formed in the shape of wings, allow, if not to fly, at least to shoot
into the air; pigeon spatulae, with tails covered with many rings of
shell; macrognathi with long jaws, an excellent fish, nine inches long,
and bright with most agreeable colours; pale-coloured calliomores, with
rugged heads; and plenty of chaetpdons, with long and tubular muzzles,
which kill insects by shooting them, as from an air-gun, with a single
drop of water. These we may call the flycatchers of the seas.

"In the eighty-ninth genus of fishes, classed by Lacepede, belonging to
the second lower class of bony, characterised by opercules and
bronchial membranes, I remarked the scorpaena, the head of which is
furnished with spikes, and which has but one dorsal fin; these
creatures are covered, or not, with little shells, according to the
sub-class to which they belong. The second sub-class gives us specimens
of didactyles fourteen or fifteen inches in length, with yellow rays,
and heads of a most fantastic appearance. As to the first sub-class, it
gives several specimens of that singular looking fish appropriately
called a 'seafrog,' with large head, sometimes pierced with holes,
sometimes swollen with protuberances, bristling with spikes, and
covered with tubercles; it has irregular and hideous horns; its body
and tail are covered with callosities; its sting makes a dangerous
wound; it is both repugnant and horrible to look at."

From the 21st to the 23rd of January the Nautilus went at the rate of
two hundred and fifty leagues in twenty-four hours, being five hundred
and forty miles, or twenty-two miles an hour.  If we recognised so many
different varieties of fish, it was because, attracted by the electric
light, they tried to follow us; the greater part, however, were soon
distanced by our speed, though some kept their place in the waters of
the Nautilus for a time.  The morning of the 24th, in 12° 5' S.
lat., and 94° 33' long., we observed Keeling Island, a coral
formation, planted with magnificent cocos, and which had been visited
by Mr. Darwin and Captain Fitzroy.  The Nautilus skirted the shores of
this desert island for a little distance.  Its nets brought up numerous
specimens of polypi and curious shells of mollusca.  Some precious
productions of the species of delphinulae enriched the treasures of
Captain Nemo, to which I added an astraea punctifera, a kind of
parasite polypus often found fixed to a shell.

Soon Keeling Island disappeared from the horizon, and our course was
directed to the north-west in the direction of the Indian Peninsula.

From Keeling Island our course was slower and more variable, often
taking us into great depths.  Several times they made use of the
inclined planes, which certain internal levers placed obliquely to the
waterline.  In that way we went about two miles, but without ever
obtaining the greatest depths of the Indian Sea, which soundings of
seven thousand fathoms have never reached.  As to the temperature of
the lower strata, the thermometer invariably indicated 4° above
zero.  I only observed that in the upper regions the water was always
colder in the high levels than at the surface of the sea.

On the 25th of January the ocean was entirely deserted; the Nautilus
passed the day on the surface, beating the waves with its powerful
screw and making them rebound to a great height.  Who under such
circumstances would not have taken it for a gigantic cetacean?  Three
parts of this day I spent on the platform.  I watched the sea.  Nothing
on the horizon, till about four o'clock a steamer running west on our
counter.  Her masts were visible for an instant, but she could not see
the Nautilus, being too low in the water.  I fancied this steamboat
belonged to the P.O. Company, which runs from Ceylon to Sydney,
touching at King George's Point and Melbourne.

At five o'clock in the evening, before that fleeting twilight which
binds night to day in tropical zones, Conseil and I were astonished by
a curious spectacle.

It was a shoal of argonauts travelling along on the surface of the
ocean.  We could count several hundreds.  They belonged to the tubercle
kind which are peculiar to the Indian seas.

These graceful molluscs moved backwards by means of their locomotive
tube, through which they propelled the water already drawn in.  Of
their eight tentacles, six were elongated, and stretched out floating
on the water, whilst the other two, rolled up flat, were spread to the
wing like a light sail.  I saw their spiral-shaped and fluted shells,
which Cuvier justly compares to an elegant skiff.  A boat indeed!  It
bears the creature which secretes it without its adhering to it.

For nearly an hour the Nautilus floated in the midst of this shoal of
molluscs.  Then I know not what sudden fright they took.  But as if at
a signal every sail was furled, the arms folded, the body drawn in, the
shells turned over, changing their centre of gravity, and the whole
fleet disappeared under the waves.  Never did the ships of a squadron
manoeuvre with more unity.

At that moment night fell suddenly, and the reeds, scarcely raised by
the breeze, lay peaceably under the sides of the Nautilus.

The next day, 26th of January, we cut the equator at the eighty-second
meridian and entered the northern hemisphere.  During the day a
formidable troop of sharks accompanied us, terrible creatures, which
multiply in these seas and make them very dangerous.  They were
"cestracio philippi" sharks, with brown backs and whitish bellies,
armed with eleven rows of teeth--eyed sharks--their throat being marked
with a large black spot surrounded with white like an eye.  There were
also some Isabella sharks, with rounded snouts marked with dark spots.
These powerful creatures often hurled themselves at the windows of the
saloon with such violence as to make us feel very insecure.  At such
times Ned Land was no longer master of himself.  He wanted to go to the
surface and harpoon the monsters, particularly certain smooth-hound
sharks, whose mouth is studded with teeth like a mosaic; and large
tiger-sharks nearly six yards long, the last named of which seemed to
excite him more particularly.  But the Nautilus, accelerating her
speed, easily left the most rapid of them behind.

The 27th of January, at the entrance of the vast Bay of Bengal, we met
repeatedly a forbidding spectacle, dead bodies floating on the surface
of the water.  They were the dead of the Indian villages, carried by
the Ganges to the level of the sea, and which the vultures, the only
undertakers of the country, had not been able to devour.  But the
sharks did not fail to help them at their funeral work.

About seven o'clock in the evening, the Nautilus, half-immersed, was
sailing in a sea of milk.  At first sight the ocean seemed lactified.
Was it the effect of the lunar rays?  No; for the moon, scarcely two
days old, was still lying hidden under the horizon in the rays of the
sun.  The whole sky, though lit by the sidereal rays, seemed black by
contrast with the whiteness of the waters.

Conseil could not believe his eyes, and questioned me as to the cause
of this strange phenomenon.  Happily I was able to answer him.

"It is called a milk sea," I explained.  "A large extent of white
wavelets often to be seen on the coasts of Amboyna, and in these parts
of the sea."

"But, sir," said Conseil, "can you tell me what causes such an effect?
for I suppose the water is not really turned into milk."

"No, my boy; and the whiteness which surprises you is caused only by
the presence of myriads of infusoria, a sort of luminous little worm,
gelatinous and without colour, of the thickness of a hair, and whose
length is not more than seven-thousandths of an inch.  These insects
adhere to one another sometimes for several leagues."

"Several leagues!" exclaimed Conseil.

"Yes, my boy; and you need not try to compute the number of these
infusoria.  You will not be able, for, if I am not mistaken, ships have
floated on these milk seas for more than forty miles."

Towards midnight the sea suddenly resumed its usual colour; but behind
us, even to the limits of the horizon, the sky reflected the whitened
waves, and for a long time seemed impregnated with the vague
glimmerings of an aurora borealis.



CHAPTER II

A NOVEL PROPOSAL OF CAPTAIN NEMO'S

On the 28th of February, when at noon the Nautilus came to the surface
of the sea, in 9° 4' N. lat., there was land in sight about eight
miles to westward.  The first thing I noticed was a range of mountains
about two thousand feet high, the shapes of which were most capricious.
On taking the bearings, I knew that we were nearing the island of
Ceylon, the pearl which hangs from the lobe of the Indian Peninsula.

Captain Nemo and his second appeared at this moment.  The Captain
glanced at the map.  Then turning to me, said:

"The Island of Ceylon, noted for its pearl-fisheries. Would you like to
visit one of them, M. Aronnax?"

"Certainly, Captain."

"Well, the thing is easy.  Though, if we see the fisheries, we shall
not see the fishermen.  The annual exportation has not yet begun.
Never mind, I will give orders to make for the Gulf of Manaar, where we
shall arrive in the night."

The Captain said something to his second, who immediately went out.
Soon the Nautilus returned to her native element, and the manometer
showed that she was about thirty feet deep.

"Well, sir," said Captain Nemo, "you and your companions shall visit
the Bank of Manaar, and if by chance some fisherman should be there, we
shall see him at work."

"Agreed, Captain!"

"By the bye, M. Aronnax you are not afraid of sharks?"

"Sharks!" exclaimed I.

This question seemed a very hard one.

"Well?" continued Captain Nemo.

"I admit, Captain, that I am not yet very familiar with that kind of
fish."

"We are accustomed to them," replied Captain Nemo, "and in time you
will be too.  However, we shall be armed, and on the road we may be
able to hunt some of the tribe.  It is interesting.  So, till
to-morrow, sir, and early."

This said in a careless tone, Captain Nemo left the saloon.  Now, if
you were invited to hunt the bear in the mountains of Switzerland, what
would you say?

"Very well! to-morrow we will go and hunt the bear." If you were asked
to hunt the lion in the plains of Atlas, or the tiger in the Indian
jungles, what would you say?

"Ha! ha! it seems we are going to hunt the tiger or the lion!" But when
you are invited to hunt the shark in its natural element, you would
perhaps reflect before accepting the invitation.  As for myself, I
passed my hand over my forehead, on which stood large drops of cold
perspiration.  "Let us reflect," said I, "and take our time.  Hunting
otters in submarine forests, as we did in the Island of Crespo, will
pass; but going up and down at the bottom of the sea, where one is
almost certain to meet sharks, is quite another thing!  I know well
that in certain countries, particularly in the Andaman Islands, the
negroes never hesitate to attack them with a dagger in one hand and a
running noose in the other; but I also know that few who affront those
creatures ever return alive.  However, I am not a negro, and if I were
I think a little hesitation in this case would not be ill-timed."

At this moment Conseil and the Canadian entered, quite composed, and
even joyous.  They knew not what awaited them.

"Faith, sir," said Ned Land, "your Captain Nemo--the devil take
him!--has just made us a very pleasant offer."

"Ah!" said I, "you know?"

"If agreeable to you, sir," interrupted Conseil, "the commander of the
Nautilus has invited us to visit the magnificent Ceylon fisheries
to-morrow, in your company; he did it kindly, and behaved like a real
gentleman."

"He said nothing more?"

"Nothing more, sir, except that he had already spoken to you of this
little walk."

"Sir," said Conseil, "would you give us some details of the pearl
fishery?"

"As to the fishing itself," I asked, "or the incidents, which?"

"On the fishing," replied the Canadian; "before entering upon the
ground, it is as well to know something about it."

"Very well; sit down, my friends, and I will teach you."

Ned and Conseil seated themselves on an ottoman, and the first thing
the Canadian asked was:

"Sir, what is a pearl?"

"My worthy Ned," I answered, "to the poet, a pearl is a tear of the
sea; to the Orientals, it is a drop of dew solidified; to the ladies,
it is a jewel of an oblong shape, of a brilliancy of mother-of-pearl
substance, which they wear on their fingers, their necks, or their
ears; for the chemist it is a mixture of phosphate and carbonate of
lime, with a little gelatine; and lastly, for naturalists, it is simply
a morbid secretion of the organ that produces the mother-of-pearl
amongst certain bivalves."

"Branch of molluscs," said Conseil.

"Precisely so, my learned Conseil; and, amongst these testacea the
earshell, the tridacnae, the turbots, in a word, all those which
secrete mother-of-pearl, that is, the blue, bluish, violet, or white
substance which lines the interior of their shells, are capable of
producing pearls."

"Mussels too?" asked the Canadian.

"Yes, mussels of certain waters in Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Saxony,
Bohemia, and France."

"Good!  For the future I shall pay attention," replied the Canadian.

"But," I continued, "the particular mollusc which secretes the pearl is
the pearl-oyster, the meleagrina margaritiferct, that precious
pintadine. The pearl is nothing but a nacreous formation, deposited in
a globular form, either adhering to the oyster shell, or buried in the
folds of the creature. On the shell it is fast; in the flesh it is
loose; but always has for a kernel a small hard substance, may be a
barren egg, may be a grain of sand, around which the pearly matter
deposits itself year after year successively, and by thin concentric
layers."

"Are many pearls found in the same oyster?" asked Conseil.

"Yes, my boy.  Some are a perfect casket.  One oyster has been
mentioned, though I allow myself to doubt it, as having contained no
less than a hundred and fifty sharks."

"A hundred and fifty sharks!" exclaimed Ned Land.

"Did I say sharks?" said I hurriedly.  "I meant to say a hundred and
fifty pearls.  Sharks would not be sense."

"Certainly not," said Conseil; "but will you tell us now by what means
they extract these pearls?"

"They proceed in various ways.  When they adhere to the shell, the
fishermen often pull them off with pincers; but the most common way is
to lay the oysters on mats of the seaweed which covers the banks.  Thus
they die in the open air; and at the end of ten days they are in a
forward state of decomposition.  They are then plunged into large
reservoirs of sea-water; then they are opened and washed."

"The price of these pearls varies according to their size?" asked
Conseil.

"Not only according to their size," I answered, "but also according to
their shape, their water (that is, their colour), and their lustre:
that is, that bright and diapered sparkle which makes them so charming
to the eye.  The most beautiful are called virgin pearls, or paragons.
They are formed alone in the tissue of the mollusc, are white, often
opaque, and sometimes have the transparency of an opal; they are
generally round or oval.  The round are made into bracelets, the oval
into pendants, and, being more precious, are sold singly.  Those
adhering to the shell of the oyster are more irregular in shape, and
are sold by weight.  Lastly, in a lower order are classed those small
pearls known under the name of seed-pearls; they are sold by measure,
and are especially used in embroidery for church ornaments."

"But," said Conseil, "is this pearl-fishery dangerous?"

"No," I answered, quickly; "particularly if certain precautions are
taken."

"What does one risk in such a calling?" said Ned Land, "the swallowing
of some mouthfuls of sea-water?"

"As you say, Ned.  By the bye," said I, trying to take Captain Nemo's
careless tone, "are you afraid of sharks, brave Ned?"

"I!" replied the Canadian; "a harpooner by profession?  It is my trade
to make light of them."

"But," said I, "it is not a question of fishing for them with an
iron-swivel, hoisting them into the vessel, cutting off their tails
with a blow of a chopper, ripping them up, and throwing their heart
into the sea!"

"Then, it is a question of----"

"Precisely."

"In the water?"

"In the water."

"Faith, with a good harpoon!  You know, sir, these sharks are
ill-fashioned beasts.  They turn on their bellies to seize you, and in
that time----"

Ned Land had a way of saying "seize" which made my blood run cold.

"Well, and you, Conseil, what do you think of sharks?"

"Me!" said Conseil.  "I will be frank, sir."

"So much the better," thought I.

"If you, sir, mean to face the sharks, I do not see why your faithful
servant should not face them with you."



CHAPTER III

A PEARL OF TEN MILLIONS

The next morning at four o'clock I was awakened by the steward whom
Captain Nemo had placed at my service.  I rose hurriedly, dressed, and
went into the saloon.

Captain Nemo was awaiting me.

"M. Aronnax," said he, "are you ready to start?"

"I am ready."

"Then please to follow me."

"And my companions, Captain?"

"They have been told and are waiting."

"Are we not to put on our diver's dresses?" asked I.

"Not yet.  I have not allowed the Nautilus to come too near this coast,
and we are some distance from the Manaar Bank; but the boat is ready,
and will take us to the exact point of disembarking, which will save us
a long way.  It carries our diving apparatus, which we will put on when
we begin our submarine journey."

Captain Nemo conducted me to the central staircase, which led on the
platform.  Ned and Conseil were already there, delighted at the idea of
the "pleasure party" which was preparing.  Five sailors from the
Nautilus, with their oars, waited in the boat, which had been made fast
against the side.

The night was still dark.  Layers of clouds covered the sky, allowing
but few stars to be seen.  I looked on the side where the land lay, and
saw nothing but a dark line enclosing three parts of the horizon, from
south-west to north west.  The Nautilus, having returned during the
night up the western coast of Ceylon, was now west of the bay, or
rather gulf, formed by the mainland and the Island of Manaar.  There,
under the dark waters, stretched the pintadine bank, an inexhaustible
field of pearls, the length of which is more than twenty miles.

Captain Nemo, Ned Land, Conseil, and I took our places in the stern of
the boat.  The master went to the tiller; his four companions leaned on
their oars, the painter was cast off, and we sheered off.

The boat went towards the south; the oarsmen did not hurry.  I noticed
that their strokes, strong in the water, only followed each other every
ten seconds, according to the method generally adopted in the navy.
Whilst the craft was running by its own velocity, the liquid drops
struck the dark depths of the waves crisply like spats of melted lead.
A little billow, spreading wide, gave a slight roll to the boat, and
some samphire reeds flapped before it.

We were silent.  What was Captain Nemo thinking of?  Perhaps of the
land he was approaching, and which he found too near to him, contrary
to the Canadian's opinion, who thought it too far off.  As to Conseil,
he was merely there from curiosity.

About half-past five the first tints on the horizon showed the upper
line of coast more distinctly.  Flat enough in the east, it rose a
little to the south.  Five miles still lay between us, and it was
indistinct owing to the mist on the water.  At six o'clock it became
suddenly daylight, with that rapidity peculiar to tropical regions,
which know neither dawn nor twilight.  The solar rays pierced the
curtain of clouds, piled up on the eastern horizon, and the radiant orb
rose rapidly.  I saw land distinctly, with a few trees scattered here
and there.  The boat neared Manaar Island, which was rounded to the
south.  Captain Nemo rose from his seat and watched the sea.

At a sign from him the anchor was dropped, but the chain scarcely ran,
for it was little more than a yard deep, and this spot was one of the
highest points of the bank of pintadines.

"Here we are, M. Aronnax," said Captain Nemo.  "You see that enclosed
bay?  Here, in a month will be assembled the numerous fishing boats of
the exporters, and these are the waters their divers will ransack so
boldly.  Happily, this bay is well situated for that kind of fishing.
It is sheltered from the strongest winds; the sea is never very rough
here, which makes it favourable for the diver's work.  We will now put
on our dresses, and begin our walk."

I did not answer, and, while watching the suspected waves, began with
the help of the sailors to put on my heavy sea-dress. Captain Nemo and
my companions were also dressing.  None of the Nautilus men were to
accompany us on this new excursion.

Soon we were enveloped to the throat in india-rubber clothing; the air
apparatus fixed to our backs by braces.  As to the Ruhmkorff apparatus,
there was no necessity for it.  Before putting my head into the copper
cap, I had asked the question of the Captain.

"They would be useless," he replied.  "We are going to no great depth,
and the solar rays will be enough to light our walk.  Besides, it would
not be prudent to carry the electric light in these waters; its
brilliancy might attract some of the dangerous inhabitants of the coast
most inopportunely."

As Captain Nemo pronounced these words, I turned to Conseil and Ned
Land.  But my two friends had already encased their heads in the metal
cap, and they could neither hear nor answer.

One last question remained to ask of Captain Nemo.

"And our arms?" asked I; "our guns?"

"Guns!  What for?  Do not mountaineers attack the bear with a dagger in
their hand, and is not steel surer than lead?  Here is a strong blade;
put it in your belt, and we start."

I looked at my companions; they were armed like us, and, more than
that, Ned Land was brandishing an enormous harpoon, which he had placed
in the boat before leaving the Nautilus.

Then, following the Captain's example, I allowed myself to be dressed
in the heavy copper helmet, and our reservoirs of air were at once in
activity.  An instant after we were landed, one after the other, in
about two yards of water upon an even sand.  Captain Nemo made a sign
with his hand, and we followed him by a gentle declivity till we
disappeared under the waves.

Over our feet, like coveys of snipe in a bog, rose shoals of fish, of
the genus monoptera, which have no other fins but their tail. I
recognized the Javanese, a real serpent two and a half feet long, of a
livid colour underneath, and which might easily be mistaken for a
conger eel if it were not for the golden stripes on its side. In the
genus stromateus, whose bodies are very flat and oval, I saw some of
the most brilliant colours, carrying their dorsal fin like a scythe; an
excellent eating fish, which, dried and pickled, is known by the name
of Karawade; then some tranquebars, belonging to the genus
apsiphoroides, whose body is covered with a shell cuirass of eight
longitudinal plates.

The heightening sun lit the mass of waters more and more. The soil
changed by degrees. To the fine sand succeeded a perfect causeway of
boulders, covered with a carpet of molluscs and zoophytes. Amongst the
specimens of these branches I noticed some placenae, with thin unequal
shells, a kind of ostracion peculiar to the Red Sea and the Indian
Ocean; some orange lucinae with rounded shells; rockfish three feet and
a half long, which raised themselves under the waves like hands ready
to seize one. There were also some panopyres, slightly luminous; and
lastly, some oculines, like magnificent fans, forming one of the
richest vegetations of these seas.

In the midst of these living plants, and under the arbours of the
hydrophytes, were layers of clumsy articulates, particularly some
raninae, whose carapace formed a slightly rounded triangle; and some
horrible looking parthenopes.

At about seven o'clock we found ourselves at last surveying the
oyster-banks on which the pearl-oysters are reproduced by millions.

Captain Nemo pointed with his hand to the enormous heap of oysters; and
I could well understand that this mine was inexhaustible, for Nature's
creative power is far beyond man's instinct of destruction.  Ned Land,
faithful to his instinct, hastened to fill a net which he carried by
his side with some of the finest specimens.  But we could not stop.  We
must follow the Captain, who seemed to guide him self by paths known
only to himself.  The ground was sensibly rising, and sometimes, on
holding up my arm, it was above the surface of the sea.  Then the level
of the bank would sink capriciously.  Often we rounded high rocks
scarped into pyramids.  In their dark fractures huge crustacea, perched
upon their high claws like some war-machine, watched us with fixed
eyes, and under our feet crawled various kinds of annelides.

At this moment there opened before us a large grotto dug in a
picturesque heap of rocks and carpeted with all the thick warp of the
submarine flora.  At first it seemed very dark to me.  The solar rays
seemed to be extinguished by successive gradations, until its vague
transparency became nothing more than drowned light.  Captain Nemo
entered; we followed.  My eyes soon accustomed themselves to this
relative state of darkness.  I could distinguish the arches springing
capriciously from natural pillars, standing broad upon their granite
base, like the heavy columns of Tuscan architecture.  Why had our
incomprehensible guide led us to the bottom of this submarine crypt?  I
was soon to know.  After descending a rather sharp declivity, our feet
trod the bottom of a kind of circular pit.  There Captain Nemo stopped,
and with his hand indicated an object I had not yet perceived.  It was
an oyster of extraordinary dimensions, a gigantic tridacne, a goblet
which could have contained a whole lake of holy-water, a basin the
breadth of which was more than two yards and a half, and consequently
larger than that ornamenting the saloon of the Nautilus.  I approached
this extraordinary mollusc.  It adhered by its filaments to a table of
granite, and there, isolated, it developed itself in the calm waters of
the grotto.  I estimated the weight of this tridacne at 600 lb.  Such
an oyster would contain 30 lb. of meat; and one must have the stomach
of a Gargantua to demolish some dozens of them.

Captain Nemo was evidently acquainted with the existence of this
bivalve, and seemed to have a particular motive in verifying the actual
state of this tridacne.  The shells were a little open; the Captain
came near and put his dagger between to prevent them from closing; then
with his hand he raised the membrane with its fringed edges, which
formed a cloak for the creature.  There, between the folded plaits, I
saw a loose pearl, whose size equalled that of a coco-nut. Its globular
shape, perfect clearness, and admirable lustre made it altogether a
jewel of inestimable value.  Carried away by my curiosity, I stretched
out my hand to seize it, weigh it, and touch it; but the Captain
stopped me, made a sign of refusal, and quickly withdrew his dagger,
and the two shells closed suddenly.  I then understood Captain Nemo's
intention.  In leaving this pearl hidden in the mantle of the tridacne
he was allowing it to grow slowly.  Each year the secretions of the
mollusc would add new concentric circles.  I estimated its value at
L500,000 at least.

After ten minutes Captain Nemo stopped suddenly.  I thought he had
halted previously to returning.  No; by a gesture he bade us crouch
beside him in a deep fracture of the rock, his hand pointed to one part
of the liquid mass, which I watched attentively.

About five yards from me a shadow appeared, and sank to the ground.
The disquieting idea of sharks shot through my mind, but I was
mistaken; and once again it was not a monster of the ocean that we had
anything to do with.

It was a man, a living man, an Indian, a fisherman, a poor devil who, I
suppose, had come to glean before the harvest.  I could see the bottom
of his canoe anchored some feet above his head.  He dived and went up
successively.  A stone held between his feet, cut in the shape of a
sugar loaf, whilst a rope fastened him to his boat, helped him to
descend more rapidly.  This was all his apparatus.  Reaching the
bottom, about five yards deep, he went on his knees and filled his bag
with oysters picked up at random.  Then he went up, emptied it, pulled
up his stone, and began the operation once more, which lasted thirty
seconds.

The diver did not see us.  The shadow of the rock hid us from sight.
And how should this poor Indian ever dream that men, beings like
himself, should be there under the water watching his movements and
losing no detail of the fishing?  Several times he went up in this way,
and dived again.  He did not carry away more than ten at each plunge,
for he was obliged to pull them from the bank to which they adhered by
means of their strong byssus.  And how many of those oysters for which
he risked his life had no pearl in them!  I watched him closely; his
manoeuvres were regular; and for the space of half an hour no danger
appeared to threaten him.

I was beginning to accustom myself to the sight of this interesting
fishing, when suddenly, as the Indian was on the ground, I saw him make
a gesture of terror, rise, and make a spring to return to the surface
of the sea.

I understood his dread.  A gigantic shadow appeared just above the
unfortunate diver.  It was a shark of enormous size advancing
diagonally, his eyes on fire, and his jaws open.  I was mute with
horror and unable to move.

The voracious creature shot towards the Indian, who threw himself on
one side to avoid the shark's fins; but not its tail, for it struck his
chest and stretched him on the ground.

This scene lasted but a few seconds:  the shark returned, and, turning
on his back, prepared himself for cutting the Indian in two, when I saw
Captain Nemo rise suddenly, and then, dagger in hand, walk straight to
the monster, ready to fight face to face with him.  The very moment the
shark was going to snap the unhappy fisherman in two, he perceived his
new adversary, and, turning over, made straight towards him.

I can still see Captain Nemo's position.  Holding himself well
together, he waited for the shark with admirable coolness; and, when it
rushed at him, threw himself on one side with wonderful quickness,
avoiding the shock, and burying his dagger deep into its side.  But it
was not all over.  A terrible combat ensued.

The shark had seemed to roar, if I might say so.  The blood rushed in
torrents from its wound.  The sea was dyed red, and through the opaque
liquid I could distinguish nothing more.  Nothing more until the moment
when, like lightning, I saw the undaunted Captain hanging on to one of
the creature's fins, struggling, as it were, hand to hand with the
monster, and dealing successive blows at his enemy, yet still unable to
give a decisive one.

The shark's struggles agitated the water with such fury that the
rocking threatened to upset me.

I wanted to go to the Captain's assistance, but, nailed to the spot
with horror, I could not stir.

I saw the haggard eye; I saw the different phases of the fight.  The
Captain fell to the earth, upset by the enormous mass which leant upon
him.  The shark's jaws opened wide, like a pair of factory shears, and
it would have been all over with the Captain; but, quick as thought,
harpoon in hand, Ned Land rushed towards the shark and struck it with
its sharp point.

The waves were impregnated with a mass of blood.  They rocked under the
shark's movements, which beat them with indescribable fury.  Ned Land
had not missed his aim.  It was the monster's death-rattle.  Struck to
the heart, it struggled in dreadful convulsions, the shock of which
overthrew Conseil.

But Ned Land had disentangled the Captain, who, getting up without any
wound, went straight to the Indian, quickly cut the cord which held him
to his stone, took him in his arms, and, with a sharp blow of his heel,
mounted to the surface.

We all three followed in a few seconds, saved by a miracle, and reached
the fisherman's boat.

Captain Nemo's first care was to recall the unfortunate man to life
again.  I did not think he could succeed.  I hoped so, for the poor
creature's immersion was not long; but the blow from the shark's tail
might have been his death-blow.

Happily, with the Captain's and Conseil's sharp friction, I saw
consciousness return by degrees.  He opened his eyes.  What was his
surprise, his terror even, at seeing four great copper heads leaning
over him!  And, above all, what must he have thought when Captain Nemo,
drawing from the pocket of his dress a bag of pearls, placed it in his
hand!  This munificent charity from the man of the waters to the poor
Cingalese was accepted with a trembling hand.  His wondering eyes
showed that he knew not to what super-human beings he owed both fortune
and life.

At a sign from the Captain we regained the bank, and, following the
road already traversed, came in about half an hour to the anchor which
held the canoe of the Nautilus to the earth.

Once on board, we each, with the help of the sailors, got rid of the
heavy copper helmet.

Captain Nemo's first word was to the Canadian.

"Thank you, Master Land," said he.

"It was in revenge, Captain," replied Ned Land.  "I owed you that."

A ghastly smile passed across the Captain's lips, and that was all.

"To the Nautilus," said he.

The boat flew over the waves.  Some minutes after we met the shark's
dead body floating.  By the black marking of the extremity of its fins,
I recognised the terrible melanopteron of the Indian Seas, of the
species of shark so properly called.  It was more than twenty-five feet
long; its enormous mouth occupied one-third of its body.  It was an
adult, as was known by its six rows of teeth placed in an isosceles
triangle in the upper jaw.

Whilst I was contemplating this inert mass, a dozen of these voracious
beasts appeared round the boat; and, without noticing us, threw
themselves upon the dead body and fought with one another for the
pieces.

At half-past eight we were again on board the Nautilus.  There I
reflected on the incidents which had taken place in our excursion to
the Manaar Bank.

Two conclusions I must inevitably draw from it--one bearing upon the
unparalleled courage of Captain Nemo, the other upon his devotion to a
human being, a representative of that race from which he fled beneath
the sea.  Whatever he might say, this strange man had not yet succeeded
in entirely crushing his heart.

When I made this observation to him, he answered in a slightly moved
tone:

"That Indian, sir, is an inhabitant of an oppressed country; and I am
still, and shall be, to my last breath, one of them!"



CHAPTER IV

THE RED SEA

In the course of the day of the 29th of January, the island of Ceylon
disappeared under the horizon, and the Nautilus, at a speed of twenty
miles an hour, slid into the labyrinth of canals which separate the
Maldives from the Laccadives.  It coasted even the Island of Kiltan, a
land originally coraline, discovered by Vasco da Gama in 1499, and one
of the nineteen principal islands of the Laccadive Archipelago,
situated between 10° and 14° 30' N. lat., and 69° 50' 72"
E. long.

We had made 16,220 miles, or 7,500 (French) leagues from our
starting-point in the Japanese Seas.

The next day (30th January), when the Nautilus went to the surface of
the ocean there was no land in sight.  Its course was N.N.E., in the
direction of the Sea of Oman, between Arabia and the Indian Peninsula,
which serves as an outlet to the Persian Gulf.  It was evidently a
block without any possible egress.  Where was Captain Nemo taking us
to?  I could not say.  This, however, did not satisfy the Canadian, who
that day came to me asking where we were going.

"We are going where our Captain's fancy takes us, Master Ned."

"His fancy cannot take us far, then," said the Canadian.  "The Persian
Gulf has no outlet:  and, if we do go in, it will not be long before we
are out again."

"Very well, then, we will come out again, Master Land; and if, after
the Persian Gulf, the Nautilus would like to visit the Red Sea, the
Straits of Bab-el-mandeb are there to give us entrance."

"I need not tell you, sir," said Ned Land, "that the Red Sea is as much
closed as the Gulf, as the Isthmus of Suez is not yet cut; and, if it
was, a boat as mysterious as ours would not risk itself in a canal cut
with sluices.  And again, the Red Sea is not the road to take us back
to Europe."

"But I never said we were going back to Europe."

"What do you suppose, then?"

"I suppose that, after visiting the curious coasts of Arabia and Egypt,
the Nautilus will go down the Indian Ocean again, perhaps cross the
Channel of Mozambique, perhaps off the Mascarenhas, so as to gain the
Cape of Good Hope."

"And once at the Cape of Good Hope?" asked the Canadian, with peculiar
emphasis.

"Well, we shall penetrate into that Atlantic which we do not yet know.
Ah! friend Ned, you are getting tired of this journey under the sea;
you are surfeited with the incessantly varying spectacle of submarine
wonders.  For my part, I shall be sorry to see the end of a voyage
which it is given to so few men to make."

For four days, till the 3rd of February, the Nautilus scoured the Sea
of Oman, at various speeds and at various depths.  It seemed to go at
random, as if hesitating as to which road it should follow, but we
never passed the Tropic of Cancer.

In quitting this sea we sighted Muscat for an instant, one of the most
important towns of the country of Oman.  I admired its strange aspect,
surrounded by black rocks upon which its white houses and forts stood
in relief.  I saw the rounded domes of its mosques, the elegant points
of its minarets, its fresh and verdant terraces.  But it was only a
vision!  The Nautilus soon sank under the waves of that part of the sea.

We passed along the Arabian coast of Mahrah and Hadramaut, for a
distance of six miles, its undulating line of mountains being
occasionally relieved by some ancient ruin.  The 5th of February we at
last entered the Gulf of Aden, a perfect funnel introduced into the
neck of Bab-el-mandeb, through which the Indian waters entered the Red
Sea.

The 6th of February, the Nautilus floated in sight of Aden, perched
upon a promontory which a narrow isthmus joins to the mainland, a kind
of inaccessible Gibraltar, the fortifications of which were rebuilt by
the English after taking possession in 1839.  I caught a glimpse of the
octagon minarets of this town, which was at one time the richest
commercial magazine on the coast.

I certainly thought that Captain Nemo, arrived at this point, would
back out again; but I was mistaken, for he did no such thing, much to
my surprise.

The next day, the 7th of February, we entered the Straits of
Bab-el-mandeb, the name of which, in the Arab tongue, means The Gate of
Tears.

To twenty miles in breadth, it is only thirty-two in length.  And for
the Nautilus, starting at full speed, the crossing was scarcely the
work of an hour.  But I saw nothing, not even the Island of Perim, with
which the British Government has fortified the position of Aden.  There
were too many English or French steamers of the line of Suez to Bombay,
Calcutta to Melbourne, and from Bourbon to the Mauritius, furrowing
this narrow passage, for the Nautilus to venture to show itself.  So it
remained prudently below.  At last about noon, we were in the waters of
the Red Sea.

I would not even seek to understand the caprice which had decided
Captain Nemo upon entering the gulf.  But I quite approved of the
Nautilus entering it.  Its speed was lessened:  sometimes it kept on
the surface, sometimes it dived to avoid a vessel, and thus I was able
to observe the upper and lower parts of this curious sea.

The 8th of February, from the first dawn of day, Mocha came in sight,
now a ruined town, whose walls would fall at a gunshot, yet which
shelters here and there some verdant date-trees; once an important
city, containing six public markets, and twenty-six mosques, and whose
walls, defended by fourteen forts, formed a girdle of two miles in
circumference.

The Nautilus then approached the African shore, where the depth of the
sea was greater.  There, between two waters clear as crystal, through
the open panels we were allowed to contemplate the beautiful bushes of
brilliant coral and large blocks of rock clothed with a splendid fur of
green variety of sites and landscapes along these sandbanks and algae
and fuci.  What an indescribable spectacle, and what variety of sites
and landscapes along these sandbanks and volcanic islands which bound
the Libyan coast!  But where these shrubs appeared in all their beauty
was on the eastern coast, which the Nautilus soon gained.  It was on
the coast of Tehama, for there not only did this display of zoophytes
flourish beneath the level of the sea, but they also formed picturesque
interlacings which unfolded themselves about sixty feet above the
surface, more capricious but less highly coloured than those whose
freshness was kept up by the vital power of the waters.

What charming hours I passed thus at the window of the saloon!  What
new specimens of submarine flora and fauna did I admire under the
brightness of our electric lantern!

The 9th of February the Nautilus floated in the broadest part of the
Red Sea, which is comprised between Souakin, on the west coast, and
Komfidah, on the east coast, with a diameter of ninety miles.

That day at noon, after the bearings were taken, Captain Nemo mounted
the platform, where I happened to be, and I was determined not to let
him go down again without at least pressing him regarding his ulterior
projects.  As soon as he saw me he approached and graciously offered me
a cigar.

"Well, sir, does this Red Sea please you?  Have you sufficiently
observed the wonders it covers, its fishes, its zoophytes, its
parterres of sponges, and its forests of coral?  Did you catch a
glimpse of the towns on its borders?"

"Yes, Captain Nemo," I replied; "and the Nautilus is wonderfully fitted
for such a study.  Ah! it is an intelligent boat!"

"Yes, sir, intelligent and invulnerable.  It fears neither the terrible
tempests of the Red Sea, nor its currents, nor its sandbanks."

"Certainly," said I, "this sea is quoted as one of the worst, and in
the time of the ancients, if I am not mistaken, its reputation was
detestable."

"Detestable, M. Aronnax.  The Greek and Latin historians do not speak
favourably of it, and Strabo says it is very dangerous during the
Etesian winds and in the rainy season.  The Arabian Edrisi portrays it
under the name of the Gulf of Colzoum, and relates that vessels
perished there in great numbers on the sandbanks and that no one would
risk sailing in the night.  It is, he pretends, a sea subject to
fearful hurricanes, strewn with inhospitable islands, and `which offers
nothing good either on its surface or in its depths.'"

"One may see," I replied, "that these historians never sailed on board
the Nautilus."

"Just so," replied the Captain, smiling; "and in that respect moderns
are not more advanced than the ancients.  It required many ages to find
out the mechanical power of steam.  Who knows if, in another hundred
years, we may not see a second Nautilus?  Progress is slow, M. Aronnax."

"It is true," I answered; "your boat is at least a century before its
time, perhaps an era.  What a misfortune that the secret of such an
invention should die with its inventor!"

Captain Nemo did not reply.  After some minutes' silence he continued:

"You were speaking of the opinions of ancient historians upon the
dangerous navigation of the Red Sea."

"It is true," said I; "but were not their fears exaggerated?"

"Yes and no, M. Aronnax," replied Captain Nemo, who seemed to know the
Red Sea by heart.  "That which is no longer dangerous for a modern
vessel, well rigged, strongly built, and master of its own course,
thanks to obedient steam, offered all sorts of perils to the ships of
the ancients.  Picture to yourself those first navigators venturing in
ships made of planks sewn with the cords of the palmtree, saturated
with the grease of the seadog, and covered with powdered resin!  They
had not even instruments wherewith to take their bearings, and they
went by guess amongst currents of which they scarcely knew anything.
Under such conditions shipwrecks were, and must have been, numerous.
But in our time, steamers running between Suez and the South Seas have
nothing more to fear from the fury of this gulf, in spite of contrary
trade-winds. The captain and passengers do not prepare for their
departure by offering propitiatory sacrifices; and, on their return,
they no longer go ornamented with wreaths and gilt fillets to thank the
gods in the neighbouring temple."

"I agree with you," said I; "and steam seems to have killed all
gratitude in the hearts of sailors.  But, Captain, since you seem to
have especially studied this sea, can you tell me the origin of its
name?"

"There exist several explanations on the subject, M. Aronnax.  Would
you like to know the opinion of a chronicler of the fourteenth century?"

"Willingly."

"This fanciful writer pretends that its name was given to it after the
passage of the Israelites, when Pharaoh perished in the waves which
closed at the voice of Moses."

"A poet's explanation, Captain Nemo," I replied; "but I cannot content
myself with that.  I ask you for your personal opinion."

"Here it is, M. Aronnax.  According to my idea, we must see in this
appellation of the Red Sea a translation of the Hebrew word `Edom'; and
if the ancients gave it that name, it was on account of the particular
colour of its waters."

"But up to this time I have seen nothing but transparent waves and
without any particular colour."

"Very likely; but as we advance to the bottom of the gulf, you will see
this singular appearance.  I remember seeing the Bay of Tor entirely
red, like a sea of blood."

"And you attribute this colour to the presence of a microscopic
seaweed?"

"Yes."

"So, Captain Nemo, it is not the first time you have overrun the Red
Sea on board the Nautilus?"

"No, sir."

"As you spoke a while ago of the passage of the Israelites and of the
catastrophe to the Egyptians, I will ask whether you have met with the
traces under the water of this great historical fact?"

"No, sir; and for a good reason."

"What is it?"

"It is that the spot where Moses and his people passed is now so
blocked up with sand that the camels can barely bathe their legs there.
You can well understand that there would not be water enough for my
Nautilus."

"And the spot?"  I asked.

"The spot is situated a little above the Isthmus of Suez, in the arm
which formerly made a deep estuary, when the Red Sea extended to the
Salt Lakes.  Now, whether this passage were miraculous or not, the
Israelites, nevertheless, crossed there to reach the Promised Land, and
Pharaoh's army perished precisely on that spot; and I think that
excavations made in the middle of the sand would bring to light a large
number of arms and instruments of Egyptian origin."

"That is evident," I replied; "and for the sake of archaeologists let
us hope that these excavations will be made sooner or later, when new
towns are established on the isthmus, after the construction of the
Suez Canal; a canal, however, very useless to a vessel like the
Nautilus."

"Very likely; but useful to the whole world," said Captain Nemo.  "The
ancients well understood the utility of a communication between the Red
Sea and the Mediterranean for their commercial affairs: but they did
not think of digging a canal direct, and took the Nile as an
intermediate.  Very probably the canal which united the Nile to the Red
Sea was begun by Sesostris, if we may believe tradition.  One thing is
certain, that in the year 615 before Jesus Christ, Necos undertook the
works of an alimentary canal to the waters of the Nile across the plain
of Egypt, looking towards Arabia.  It took four days to go up this
canal, and it was so wide that two triremes could go abreast.  It was
carried on by Darius, the son of Hystaspes, and probably finished by
Ptolemy II.  Strabo saw it navigated:  but its decline from the point
of departure, near Bubastes, to the Red Sea was so slight that it was
only navigable for a few months in the year.  This canal answered all
commercial purposes to the age of Antonius, when it was abandoned and
blocked up with sand.  Restored by order of the Caliph Omar, it was
definitely destroyed in 761 or 762 by Caliph Al-Mansor, who wished to
prevent the arrival of provisions to Mohammed-ben-Abdallah, who had
revolted against him.  During the expedition into Egypt, your General
Bonaparte discovered traces of the works in the Desert of Suez; and,
surprised by the tide, he nearly perished before regaining Hadjaroth,
at the very place where Moses had encamped three thousand years before
him."

"Well, Captain, what the ancients dared not undertake, this junction
between the two seas, which will shorten the road from Cadiz to India,
M. Lesseps has succeeded in doing; and before long he will have changed
Africa into an immense island."

"Yes, M. Aronnax; you have the right to be proud of your countryman.
Such a man brings more honour to a nation than great captains.  He
began, like so many others, with disgust and rebuffs; but he has
triumphed, for he has the genius of will.  And it is sad to think that
a work like that, which ought to have been an international work and
which would have sufficed to make a reign illustrious, should have
succeeded by the energy of one man.  All honour to M. Lesseps!"

"Yes! honour to the great citizen," I replied, surprised by the manner
in which Captain Nemo had just spoken.

"Unfortunately," he continued, "I cannot take you through the Suez
Canal; but you will be able to see the long jetty of Port Said after
to-morrow, when we shall be in the Mediterranean."

"The Mediterranean!"  I exclaimed.

"Yes, sir; does that astonish you?"

"What astonishes me is to think that we shall be there the day after
to-morrow."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, Captain, although by this time I ought to have accustomed myself
to be surprised at nothing since I have been on board your boat."

"But the cause of this surprise?"

"Well! it is the fearful speed you will have to put on the Nautilus, if
the day after to-morrow she is to be in the Mediterranean, having made
the round of Africa, and doubled the Cape of Good Hope!"

"Who told you that she would make the round of Africa and double the
Cape of Good Hope, sir?"

"Well, unless the Nautilus sails on dry land, and passes above the
isthmus----"

"Or beneath it, M. Aronnax."

"Beneath it?"

"Certainly," replied Captain Nemo quietly.  "A long time ago Nature
made under this tongue of land what man has this day made on its
surface."

"What! such a passage exists?"

"Yes; a subterranean passage, which I have named the Arabian Tunnel.
It takes us beneath Suez and opens into the Gulf of Pelusium."

"But this isthmus is composed of nothing but quick sands?"

"To a certain depth.  But at fifty-five yards only there is a solid
layer of rock."

"Did you discover this passage by chance?"  I asked more and more
surprised.

"Chance and reasoning, sir; and by reasoning even more than by chance.
Not only does this passage exist, but I have profited by it several
times.  Without that I should not have ventured this day into the
impassable Red Sea.  I noticed that in the Red Sea and in the
Mediterranean there existed a certain number of fishes of a kind
perfectly identical.  Certain of the fact, I asked myself was it
possible that there was no communication between the two seas?  If
there was, the subterranean current must necessarily run from the Red
Sea to the Mediterranean, from the sole cause of difference of level.
I caught a large number of fishes in the neighbourhood of Suez.  I
passed a copper ring through their tails, and threw them back into the
sea.  Some months later, on the coast of Syria, I caught some of my
fish ornamented with the ring.  Thus the communication between the two
was proved.  I then sought for it with my Nautilus; I discovered it,
ventured into it, and before long, sir, you too will have passed
through my Arabian tunnel!"



CHAPTER V

THE ARABIAN TUNNEL

That same evening, in 21° 30' N. lat., the Nautilus floated on the
surface of the sea, approaching the Arabian coast.  I saw Djeddah, the
most important counting-house of Egypt, Syria, Turkey, and India.  I
distinguished clearly enough its buildings, the vessels anchored at the
quays, and those whose draught of water obliged them to anchor in the
roads.  The sun, rather low on the horizon, struck full on the houses
of the town, bringing out their whiteness.  Outside, some wooden
cabins, and some made of reeds, showed the quarter inhabited by the
Bedouins.  Soon Djeddah was shut out from view by the shadows of night,
and the Nautilus found herself under water slightly phosphorescent.

The next day, the 10th of February, we sighted several ships running to
windward.  The Nautilus returned to its submarine navigation; but at
noon, when her bearings were taken, the sea being deserted, she rose
again to her waterline.

Accompanied by Ned and Conseil, I seated myself on the platform.  The
coast on the eastern side looked like a mass faintly printed upon a
damp fog.

We were leaning on the sides of the pinnace, talking of one thing and
another, when Ned Land, stretching out his hand towards a spot on the
sea, said:

"Do you see anything there, sir?"

"No, Ned," I replied; "but I have not your eyes, you know."

"Look well," said Ned, "there, on the starboard beam, about the height
of the lantern!  Do you not see a mass which seems to move?"

"Certainly," said I, after close attention; "I see something like a
long black body on the top of the water."

And certainly before long the black object was not more than a mile
from us.  It looked like a great sandbank deposited in the open sea.
It was a gigantic dugong!

Ned Land looked eagerly.  His eyes shone with covetousness at the sight
of the animal.  His hand seemed ready to harpoon it.  One would have
thought he was awaiting the moment to throw himself into the sea and
attack it in its element.

At this instant Captain Nemo appeared on the platform.  He saw the
dugong, understood the Canadian's attitude, and, addressing him, said:

"If you held a harpoon just now, Master Land, would it not burn your
hand?"

"Just so, sir."

"And you would not be sorry to go back, for one day, to your trade of a
fisherman and to add this cetacean to the list of those you have
already killed?"

"I should not, sir."

"Well, you can try."

"Thank you, sir," said Ned Land, his eyes flaming.

"Only," continued the Captain, "I advise you for your own sake not to
miss the creature."

"Is the dugong dangerous to attack?"  I asked, in spite of the
Canadian's shrug of the shoulders.

"Yes," replied the Captain; "sometimes the animal turns upon its
assailants and overturns their boat.  But for Master Land this danger
is not to be feared.  His eye is prompt, his arm sure."

At this moment seven men of the crew, mute and immovable as ever,
mounted the platform.  One carried a harpoon and a line similar to
those employed in catching whales.  The pinnace was lifted from the
bridge, pulled from its socket, and let down into the sea.  Six oarsmen
took their seats, and the coxswain went to the tiller.  Ned, Conseil,
and I went to the back of the boat.

"You are not coming, Captain?"  I asked.

"No, sir; but I wish you good sport."

The boat put off, and, lifted by the six rowers, drew rapidly towards
the dugong, which floated about two miles from the Nautilus.

Arrived some cables-length from the cetacean, the speed slackened, and
the oars dipped noiselessly into the quiet waters.  Ned Land, harpoon
in hand, stood in the fore part of the boat.  The harpoon used for
striking the whale is generally attached to a very long cord which runs
out rapidly as the wounded creature draws it after him.  But here the
cord was not more than ten fathoms long, and the extremity was attached
to a small barrel which, by floating, was to show the course the dugong
took under the water.

I stood and carefully watched the Canadian's adversary.  This dugong,
which also bears the name of the halicore, closely resembles the
manatee; its oblong body terminated in a lengthened tail, and its
lateral fins in perfect fingers.  Its difference from the manatee
consisted in its upper jaw, which was armed with two long and pointed
teeth which formed on each side diverging tusks.

This dugong which Ned Land was preparing to attack was of colossal
dimensions; it was more than seven yards long.  It did not move, and
seemed to be sleeping on the waves, which circumstance made it easier
to capture.

The boat approached within six yards of the animal.  The oars rested on
the rowlocks.  I half rose.  Ned Land, his body thrown a little back,
brandished the harpoon in his experienced hand.

Suddenly a hissing noise was heard, and the dugong disappeared.  The
harpoon, although thrown with great force; had apparently only struck
the water.

"Curse it!" exclaimed the Canadian furiously; "I have missed it!"

"No," said I; "the creature is wounded--look at the blood; but your
weapon has not stuck in his body."

"My harpoon! my harpoon!" cried Ned Land.

The sailors rowed on, and the coxswain made for the floating barrel.
The harpoon regained, we followed in pursuit of the animal.

The latter came now and then to the surface to breathe.  Its wound had
not weakened it, for it shot onwards with great rapidity.

The boat, rowed by strong arms, flew on its track.  Several times it
approached within some few yards, and the Canadian was ready to strike,
but the dugong made off with a sudden plunge, and it was impossible to
reach it.

Imagine the passion which excited impatient Ned Land!  He hurled at the
unfortunate creature the most energetic expletives in the English
tongue.  For my part, I was only vexed to see the dugong escape all our
attacks.

We pursued it without relaxation for an hour, and I began to think it
would prove difficult to capture, when the animal, possessed with the
perverse idea of vengeance of which he had cause to repent, turned upon
the pinnace and assailed us in its turn.

This manoeuvre did not escape the Canadian.

"Look out!" he cried.

The coxswain said some words in his outlandish tongue, doubtless
warning the men to keep on their guard.

The dugong came within twenty feet of the boat, stopped, sniffed the
air briskly with its large nostrils (not pierced at the extremity, but
in the upper part of its muzzle). Then, taking a spring, he threw
himself upon us.

The pinnace could not avoid the shock, and half upset, shipped at least
two tons of water, which had to be emptied; but, thanks to the
coxswain, we caught it sideways, not full front, so we were not quite
overturned.  While Ned Land, clinging to the bows, belaboured the
gigantic animal with blows from his harpoon, the creature's teeth were
buried in the gunwale, and it lifted the whole thing out of the water,
as a lion does a roebuck.  We were upset over one another, and I know
not how the adventure would have ended, if the Canadian, still enraged
with the beast, had not struck it to the heart.

I heard its teeth grind on the iron plate, and the dugong disappeared,
carrying the harpoon with him.  But the barrel soon returned to the
surface, and shortly after the body of the animal, turned on its back.
The boat came up with it, took it in tow, and made straight for the
Nautilus.

It required tackle of enormous strength to hoist the dugong on to the
platform.  It weighed 10,000 lb.

The next day, 11th February, the larder of the Nautilus was enriched by
some more delicate game.  A flight of sea-swallows rested on the
Nautilus.  It was a species of the Sterna nilotica, peculiar to Egypt;
its beak is black, head grey and pointed, the eye surrounded by white
spots, the back, wings, and tail of a greyish colour, the belly and
throat white, and claws red.  They also took some dozen of Nile ducks,
a wild bird of high flavour, its throat and upper part of the head
white with black spots.

About five o'clock in the evening we sighted to the north the Cape of
Ras-Mohammed. This cape forms the extremity of Arabia Petraea,
comprised between the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Acabah.

The Nautilus penetrated into the Straits of Jubal, which leads to the
Gulf of Suez.  I distinctly saw a high mountain, towering between the
two gulfs of Ras-Mohammed. It was Mount Horeb, that Sinai at the top of
which Moses saw God face to face.

At six o'clock the Nautilus, sometimes floating, sometimes immersed,
passed some distance from Tor, situated at the end of the bay, the
waters of which seemed tinted with red, an observation already made by
Captain Nemo.  Then night fell in the midst of a heavy silence,
sometimes broken by the cries of the pelican and other night-birds, and
the noise of the waves breaking upon the shore, chafing against the
rocks, or the panting of some far-off steamer beating the waters of the
Gulf with its noisy paddles.

From eight to nine o'clock the Nautilus remained some fathoms under the
water.  According to my calculation we must have been very near Suez.
Through the panel of the saloon I saw the bottom of the rocks
brilliantly lit up by our electric lamp.  We seemed to be leaving the
Straits behind us more and more.

At a quarter-past nine, the vessel having returned to the surface, I
mounted the platform.  Most impatient to pass through Captain Nemo's
tunnel, I could not stay in one place, so came to breathe the fresh
night air.

Soon in the shadow I saw a pale light, half discoloured by the fog,
shining about a mile from us.

"A floating lighthouse!" said someone near me.

I turned, and saw the Captain.

"It is the floating light of Suez," he continued.  "It will not be long
before we gain the entrance of the tunnel."

"The entrance cannot be easy?"

"No, sir; for that reason I am accustomed to go into the steersman's
cage and myself direct our course.  And now, if you will go down, M.
Aronnax, the Nautilus is going under the waves, and will not return to
the surface until we have passed through the Arabian Tunnel."

Captain Nemo led me towards the central staircase; half way down he
opened a door, traversed the upper deck, and landed in the pilot's
cage, which it may be remembered rose at the extremity of the platform.
It was a cabin measuring six feet square, very much like that occupied
by the pilot on the steamboats of the Mississippi or Hudson.  In the
midst worked a wheel, placed vertically, and caught to the tiller-rope,
which ran to the back of the Nautilus.  Four light-ports with
lenticular glasses, let in a groove in the partition of the cabin,
allowed the man at the wheel to see in all directions.

This cabin was dark; but soon my eyes accustomed themselves to the
obscurity, and I perceived the pilot, a strong man, with his hands
resting on the spokes of the wheel.  Outside, the sea appeared vividly
lit up by the lantern, which shed its rays from the back of the cabin
to the other extremity of the platform.

"Now," said Captain Nemo, "let us try to make our passage."

Electric wires connected the pilot's cage with the machinery room, and
from there the Captain could communicate simultaneously to his Nautilus
the direction and the speed.  He pressed a metal knob, and at once the
speed of the screw diminished.

I looked in silence at the high straight wall we were running by at
this moment, the immovable base of a massive sandy coast.  We followed
it thus for an hour only some few yards off.

Captain Nemo did not take his eye from the knob, suspended by its two
concentric circles in the cabin.  At a simple gesture, the pilot
modified the course of the Nautilus every instant.

I had placed myself at the port-scuttle, and saw some magnificent
substructures of coral, zoophytes, seaweed, and fucus, agitating their
enormous claws, which stretched out from the fissures of the rock.

At a quarter-past ten, the Captain himself took the helm.  A large
gallery, black and deep, opened before us.  The Nautilus went boldly
into it.  A strange roaring was heard round its sides.  It was the
waters of the Red Sea, which the incline of the tunnel precipitated
violently towards the Mediterranean.  The Nautilus went with the
torrent, rapid as an arrow, in spite of the efforts of the machinery,
which, in order to offer more effective resistance, beat the waves with
reversed screw.

On the walls of the narrow passage I could see nothing but brilliant
rays, straight lines, furrows of fire, traced by the great speed, under
the brilliant electric light.  My heart beat fast.

At thirty-five minutes past ten, Captain Nemo quitted the helm, and,
turning to me, said:

"The Mediterranean!"

In less than twenty minutes, the Nautilus, carried along by the
torrent, had passed through the Isthmus of Suez.



CHAPTER VI

THE GRECIAN ARCHIPELAGO

The next day, the 12th of February, at the dawn of day, the Nautilus
rose to the surface.  I hastened on to the platform.  Three miles to
the south the dim outline of Pelusium was to be seen.  A torrent had
carried us from one sea to another.  About seven o'clock Ned and
Conseil joined me.

"Well, Sir Naturalist," said the Canadian, in a slightly jovial tone,
"and the Mediterranean?"

"We are floating on its surface, friend Ned."

"What!" said Conseil, "this very night."

"Yes, this very night; in a few minutes we have passed this impassable
isthmus."

"I do not believe it," replied the Canadian.

"Then you are wrong, Master Land," I continued; "this low coast which
rounds off to the south is the Egyptian coast.  And you who have such
good eyes, Ned, you can see the jetty of Port Said stretching into the
sea."

The Canadian looked attentively.

"Certainly you are right, sir, and your Captain is a first-rate man.
We are in the Mediterranean.  Good!  Now, if you please, let us talk of
our own little affair, but so that no one hears us."

I saw what the Canadian wanted, and, in any case, I thought it better
to let him talk, as he wished it; so we all three went and sat down
near the lantern, where we were less exposed to the spray of the blades.

"Now, Ned, we listen; what have you to tell us?"

"What I have to tell you is very simple.  We are in Europe; and before
Captain Nemo's caprices drag us once more to the bottom of the Polar
Seas, or lead us into Oceania, I ask to leave the Nautilus."

I wished in no way to shackle the liberty of my companions, but I
certainly felt no desire to leave Captain Nemo.

Thanks to him, and thanks to his apparatus, I was each day nearer the
completion of my submarine studies; and I was rewriting my book of
submarine depths in its very element.  Should I ever again have such an
opportunity of observing the wonders of the ocean?  No, certainly not!
And I could not bring myself to the idea of abandoning the Nautilus
before the cycle of investigation was accomplished.

"Friend Ned, answer me frankly, are you tired of being on board?  Are
you sorry that destiny has thrown us into Captain Nemo's hands?"

The Canadian remained some moments without answering.  Then, crossing
his arms, he said:

"Frankly, I do not regret this journey under the seas.  I shall be glad
to have made it; but, now that it is made, let us have done with it.
That is my idea."

"It will come to an end, Ned."

"Where and when?"

"Where I do not know--when I cannot say; or, rather, I suppose it will
end when these seas have nothing more to teach us."

"Then what do you hope for?" demanded the Canadian.

"That circumstances may occur as well six months hence as now by which
we may and ought to profit."

"Oh!" said Ned Land, "and where shall we be in six months, if you
please, Sir Naturalist?"

"Perhaps in China; you know the Nautilus is a rapid traveller.  It goes
through water as swallows through the air, or as an express on the
land.  It does not fear frequented seas; who can say that it may not
beat the coasts of France, England, or America, on which flight may be
attempted as advantageously as here."

"M. Aronnax," replied the Canadian, "your arguments are rotten at the
foundation.  You speak in the future, `We shall be there!  we shall be
here!'  I speak in the present, `We are here, and we must profit by
it.'"

Ned Land's logic pressed me hard, and I felt myself beaten on that
ground.  I knew not what argument would now tell in my favour.

"Sir," continued Ned, "let us suppose an impossibility: if Captain Nemo
should this day offer you your liberty; would you accept it?"

"I do not know," I answered.

"And if," he added, "the offer made you this day was never to be
renewed, would you accept it?"

"Friend Ned, this is my answer.  Your reasoning is against me.  We must
not rely on Captain Nemo's good-will. Common prudence forbids him to
set us at liberty.  On the other side, prudence bids us profit by the
first opportunity to leave the Nautilus."

"Well, M. Aronnax, that is wisely said."

"Only one observation--just one.  The occasion must be serious, and our
first attempt must succeed; if it fails, we shall never find another,
and Captain Nemo will never forgive us."

"All that is true," replied the Canadian.  "But your observation
applies equally to all attempts at flight, whether in two years' time,
or in two days'. But the question is still this: If a favourable
opportunity presents itself, it must be seized."

"Agreed!  And now, Ned, will you tell me what you mean by a favourable
opportunity?"

"It will be that which, on a dark night, will bring the Nautilus a
short distance from some European coast."

"And you will try and save yourself by swimming?"

"Yes, if we were near enough to the bank, and if the vessel was
floating at the time.  Not if the bank was far away, and the boat was
under the water."

"And in that case?"

"In that case, I should seek to make myself master of the pinnace.  I
know how it is worked.  We must get inside, and the bolts once drawn,
we shall come to the surface of the water, without even the pilot, who
is in the bows, perceiving our flight."

"Well, Ned, watch for the opportunity; but do not forget that a hitch
will ruin us."

"I will not forget, sir."

"And now, Ned, would you like to know what I think of your project?"

"Certainly, M. Aronnax."

"Well, I think--I do not say I hope--I think that this favourable
opportunity will never present itself."

"Why not?"

"Because Captain Nemo cannot hide from himself that we have not given
up all hope of regaining our liberty, and he will be on his guard,
above all, in the seas and in the sight of European coasts."

"We shall see," replied Ned Land, shaking his head determinedly.

"And now, Ned Land," I added, "let us stop here.  Not another word on
the subject.  The day that you are ready, come and let us know, and we
will follow you.  I rely entirely upon you."

Thus ended a conversation which, at no very distant time, led to such
grave results.  I must say here that facts seemed to confirm my
foresight, to the Canadian's great despair.  Did Captain Nemo distrust
us in these frequented seas? or did he only wish to hide himself from
the numerous vessels, of all nations, which ploughed the Mediterranean?
I could not tell; but we were oftener between waters and far from the
coast.  Or, if the Nautilus did emerge, nothing was to be seen but the
pilot's cage; and sometimes it went to great depths, for, between the
Grecian Archipelago and Asia Minor we could not touch the bottom by
more than a thousand fathoms.

Thus I only knew we were near the Island of Carpathos, one of the
Sporades, by Captain Nemo reciting these lines from Virgil:

    "Est Carpathio Neptuni gurgite vates,
     Caeruleus Proteus,"

as he pointed to a spot on the planisphere.

It was indeed the ancient abode of Proteus, the old shepherd of
Neptune's flocks, now the Island of Scarpanto, situated between Rhodes
and Crete.  I saw nothing but the granite base through the glass panels
of the saloon.

The next day, the 14th of February, I resolved to employ some hours in
studying the fishes of the Archipelago; but for some reason or other
the panels remained hermetically sealed.  Upon taking the course of the
Nautilus, I found that we were going towards Candia, the ancient Isle
of Crete.  At the time I embarked on the Abraham Lincoln, the whole of
this island had risen in insurrection against the despotism of the
Turks.  But how the insurgents had fared since that time I was
absolutely ignorant, and it was not Captain Nemo, deprived of all land
communications, who could tell me.

I made no allusion to this event when that night I found myself alone
with him in the saloon.  Besides, he seemed to be taciturn and
preoccupied.  Then, contrary to his custom, he ordered both panels to
be opened, and, going from one to the other, observed the mass of
waters attentively.  To what end I could not guess; so, on my side, I
employed my time in studying the fish passing before my eyes.

In the midst of the waters a man appeared, a diver, carrying at his
belt a leathern purse.  It was not a body abandoned to the waves; it
was a living man, swimming with a strong hand, disappearing
occasionally to take breath at the surface.

I turned towards Captain Nemo, and in an agitated voice exclaimed:

"A man shipwrecked!  He must be saved at any price!"

The Captain did not answer me, but came and leaned against the panel.

The man had approached, and, with his face flattened against the glass,
was looking at us.

To my great amazement, Captain Nemo signed to him.  The diver answered
with his hand, mounted immediately to the surface of the water, and did
not appear again.

"Do not be uncomfortable," said Captain Nemo.  "It is Nicholas of Cape
Matapan, surnamed Pesca.  He is well known in all the Cyclades.  A bold
diver! water is his element, and he lives more in it than on land,
going continually from one island to another, even as far as Crete."

"You know him, Captain?"

"Why not, M. Aronnax?"

Saying which, Captain Nemo went towards a piece of furniture standing
near the left panel of the saloon.  Near this piece of furniture, I saw
a chest bound with iron, on the cover of which was a copper plate,
bearing the cypher of the Nautilus with its device.

At that moment, the Captain, without noticing my presence, opened the
piece of furniture, a sort of strong box, which held a great many
ingots.

They were ingots of gold.  From whence came this precious metal, which
represented an enormous sum?  Where did the Captain gather this gold
from? and what was he going to do with it?

I did not say one word.  I looked.  Captain Nemo took the ingots one by
one, and arranged them methodically in the chest, which he filled
entirely.  I estimated the contents at more than 4,000 lb. weight of
gold, that is to say, nearly L200,000.

The chest was securely fastened, and the Captain wrote an address on
the lid, in characters which must have belonged to Modern Greece.

This done, Captain Nemo pressed a knob, the wire of which communicated
with the quarters of the crew.  Four men appeared, and, not without
some trouble, pushed the chest out of the saloon.  Then I heard them
hoisting it up the iron staircase by means of pulleys.

At that moment, Captain Nemo turned to me.

"And you were saying, sir?" said he.

"I was saying nothing, Captain."

"Then, sir, if you will allow me, I will wish you good night."

Whereupon he turned and left the saloon.

I returned to my room much troubled, as one may believe.  I vainly
tried to sleep--I sought the connecting link between the apparition of
the diver and the chest filled with gold.  Soon, I felt by certain
movements of pitching and tossing that the Nautilus was leaving the
depths and returning to the surface.

Then I heard steps upon the platform; and I knew they were unfastening
the pinnace and launching it upon the waves.  For one instant it struck
the side of the Nautilus, then all noise ceased.

Two hours after, the same noise, the same going and coming was renewed;
the boat was hoisted on board, replaced in its socket, and the Nautilus
again plunged under the waves.

So these millions had been transported to their address.  To what point
of the continent?  Who was Captain Nemo's correspondent?

The next day I related to Conseil and the Canadian the events of the
night, which had excited my curiosity to the highest degree.  My
companions were not less surprised than myself.

"But where does he take his millions to?" asked Ned Land.

To that there was no possible answer.  I returned to the saloon after
having breakfast and set to work.  Till five o'clock in the evening I
employed myself in arranging my notes.  At that moment--(ought I to
attribute it to some peculiar idiosyncrasy)--I felt so great a heat
that I was obliged to take off my coat.  It was strange, for we were
under low latitudes; and even then the Nautilus, submerged as it was,
ought to experience no change of temperature.  I looked at the
manometer; it showed a depth of sixty feet, to which atmospheric heat
could never attain.

I continued my work, but the temperature rose to such a pitch as to be
intolerable.

"Could there be fire on board?"  I asked myself.

I was leaving the saloon, when Captain Nemo entered; he approached the
thermometer, consulted it, and, turning to me, said:

"Forty-two degrees."

"I have noticed it, Captain," I replied; "and if it gets much hotter we
cannot bear it."

"Oh, sir, it will not get better if we do not wish it."

"You can reduce it as you please, then?"

"No; but I can go farther from the stove which produces it."

"It is outward, then!"

"Certainly; we are floating in a current of boiling water."

"Is it possible!"  I exclaimed.

"Look."

The panels opened, and I saw the sea entirely white all round.  A
sulphurous smoke was curling amid the waves, which boiled like water in
a copper.  I placed my hand on one of the panes of glass, but the heat
was so great that I quickly took it off again.

"Where are we?"  I asked.

"Near the Island of Santorin, sir," replied the Captain.  "I wished to
give you a sight of the curious spectacle of a submarine eruption."

"I thought," said I, "that the formation of these new islands was
ended."

"Nothing is ever ended in the volcanic parts of the sea," replied
Captain Nemo; "and the globe is always being worked by subterranean
fires.  Already, in the nineteenth year of our era, according to
Cassiodorus and Pliny, a new island, Theia (the divine), appeared in
the very place where these islets have recently been formed.  Then they
sank under the waves, to rise again in the year 69, when they again
subsided.  Since that time to our days the Plutonian work has been
suspended.  But on the 3rd of February, 1866, a new island, which they
named George Island, emerged from the midst of the sulphurous vapour
near Nea Kamenni, and settled again the 6th of the same month.  Seven
days after, the 13th of February, the Island of Aphroessa appeared,
leaving between Nea Kamenni and itself a canal ten yards broad.  I was
in these seas when the phenomenon occurred, and I was able therefore to
observe all the different phases.  The Island of Aphroessa, of round
form, measured 300 feet in diameter, and 30 feet in height.  It was
composed of black and vitreous lava, mixed with fragments of felspar.
And lastly, on the 10th of March, a smaller island, called Reka, showed
itself near Nea Kamenni, and since then these three have joined
together, forming but one and the same island."

"And the canal in which we are at this moment?"  I asked.

"Here it is," replied Captain Nemo, showing me a map of the
Archipelago.  "You see, I have marked the new islands."

I returned to the glass.  The Nautilus was no longer moving, the heat
was becoming unbearable.  The sea, which till now had been white, was
red, owing to the presence of salts of iron.  In spite of the ship's
being hermetically sealed, an insupportable smell of sulphur filled the
saloon, and the brilliancy of the electricity was entirely extinguished
by bright scarlet flames.  I was in a bath, I was choking, I was
broiled.

"We can remain no longer in this boiling water," said I to the Captain.

"It would not be prudent," replied the impassive Captain Nemo.

An order was given; the Nautilus tacked about and left the furnace it
could not brave with impunity.  A quarter of an hour after we were
breathing fresh air on the surface.  The thought then struck me that,
if Ned Land had chosen this part of the sea for our flight, we should
never have come alive out of this sea of fire.

The next day, the 16th of February, we left the basin which, between
Rhodes and Alexandria, is reckoned about 1,500 fathoms in depth, and
the Nautilus, passing some distance from Cerigo, quitted the Grecian
Archipelago after having doubled Cape Matapan.



CHAPTER VII

THE MEDITERRANEAN IN FORTY-EIGHT HOURS

The Mediterranean, the blue sea par excellence, "the great sea" of the
Hebrews, "the sea" of the Greeks, the "mare nostrum" of the Romans,
bordered by orange-trees, aloes, cacti, and sea-pines; embalmed with
the perfume of the myrtle, surrounded by rude mountains, saturated with
pure and transparent air, but incessantly worked by underground fires;
a perfect battlefield in which Neptune and Pluto still dispute the
empire of the world!

It is upon these banks, and on these waters, says Michelet, that man is
renewed in one of the most powerful climates of the globe.  But,
beautiful as it was, I could only take a rapid glance at the basin
whose superficial area is two million of square yards.  Even Captain
Nemo's knowledge was lost to me, for this puzzling person did not
appear once during our passage at full speed.  I estimated the course
which the Nautilus took under the waves of the sea at about six hundred
leagues, and it was accomplished in forty-eight hours.  Starting on the
morning of the 16th of February from the shores of Greece, we had
crossed the Straits of Gibraltar by sunrise on the 18th.

It was plain to me that this Mediterranean, enclosed in the midst of
those countries which he wished to avoid, was distasteful to Captain
Nemo.  Those waves and those breezes brought back too many
remembrances, if not too many regrets.  Here he had no longer that
independence and that liberty of gait which he had when in the open
seas, and his Nautilus felt itself cramped between the close shores of
Africa and Europe.

Our speed was now twenty-five miles an hour.  It may be well understood
that Ned Land, to his great disgust, was obliged to renounce his
intended flight.  He could not launch the pinnace, going at the rate of
twelve or thirteen yards every second.  To quit the Nautilus under such
conditions would be as bad as jumping from a train going at full
speed--an imprudent thing, to say the least of it.  Besides, our vessel
only mounted to the surface of the waves at night to renew its stock of
air; it was steered entirely by the compass and the log.

I saw no more of the interior of this Mediterranean than a traveller by
express train perceives of the landscape which flies before his eyes;
that is to say, the distant horizon, and not the nearer objects which
pass like a flash of lightning.

We were then passing between Sicily and the coast of Tunis.  In the
narrow space between Cape Bon and the Straits of Messina the bottom of
the sea rose almost suddenly.  There was a perfect bank, on which there
was not more than nine fathoms of water, whilst on either side the
depth was ninety fathoms.

The Nautilus had to manoeuvre very carefully so as not to strike
against this submarine barrier.

I showed Conseil, on the map of the Mediterranean, the spot occupied by
this reef.

"But if you please, sir," observed Conseil, "it is like a real isthmus
joining Europe to Africa."

"Yes, my boy, it forms a perfect bar to the Straits of Lybia, and the
soundings of Smith have proved that in former times the continents
between Cape Boco and Cape Furina were joined."

"I can well believe it," said Conseil.

"I will add," I continued, "that a similar barrier exists between
Gibraltar and Ceuta, which in geological times formed the entire
Mediterranean."

"What if some volcanic burst should one day raise these two barriers
above the waves?"

"It is not probable, Conseil."

"Well, but allow me to finish, please, sir; if this phenomenon should
take place, it will be troublesome for M. Lesseps, who has taken so
much pains to pierce the isthmus."

"I agree with you; but I repeat, Conseil, this phenomenon will never
happen.  The violence of subterranean force is ever diminishing.
Volcanoes, so plentiful in the first days of the world, are being
extinguished by degrees; the internal heat is weakened, the temperature
of the lower strata of the globe is lowered by a perceptible quantity
every century to the detriment of our globe, for its heat is its life."

"But the sun?"

"The sun is not sufficient, Conseil.  Can it give heat to a dead body?"

"Not that I know of."

"Well, my friend, this earth will one day be that cold corpse; it will
become uninhabitable and uninhabited like the moon, which has long
since lost all its vital heat."

"In how many centuries?"

"In some hundreds of thousands of years, my boy."

"Then," said Conseil, "we shall have time to finish our journey--that
is, if Ned Land does not interfere with it."

And Conseil, reassured, returned to the study of the bank, which the
Nautilus was skirting at a moderate speed.

During the night of the 16th and 17th February we had entered the
second Mediterranean basin, the greatest depth of which was 1,450
fathoms.  The Nautilus, by the action of its crew, slid down the
inclined planes and buried itself in the lowest depths of the sea.

On the 18th of February, about three o'clock in the morning, we were at
the entrance of the Straits of Gibraltar.  There once existed two
currents: an upper one, long since recognised, which conveys the waters
of the ocean into the basin of the Mediterranean; and a lower
counter-current, which reasoning has now shown to exist.  Indeed, the
volume of water in the Mediterranean, incessantly added to by the waves
of the Atlantic and by rivers falling into it, would each year raise
the level of this sea, for its evaporation is not sufficient to restore
the equilibrium.  As it is not so, we must necessarily admit the
existence of an under-current, which empties into the basin of the
Atlantic through the Straits of Gibraltar the surplus waters of the
Mediterranean.  A fact indeed; and it was this counter-current by which
the Nautilus profited.  It advanced rapidly by the narrow pass.  For
one instant I caught a glimpse of the beautiful ruins of the temple of
Hercules, buried in the ground, according to Pliny, and with the low
island which supports it; and a few minutes later we were floating on
the Atlantic.



CHAPTER VIII

VIGO BAY

The Atlantic! a vast sheet of water whose superficial area covers
twenty-five millions of square miles, the length of which is nine
thousand miles, with a mean breadth of two thousand seven hundred--an
ocean whose parallel winding shores embrace an immense circumference,
watered by the largest rivers of the world, the St. Lawrence, the
Mississippi, the Amazon, the Plata, the Orinoco, the Niger, the
Senegal, the Elbe, the Loire, and the Rhine, which carry water from the
most civilised, as well as from the most savage, countries!
Magnificent field of water, incessantly ploughed by vessels of every
nation, sheltered by the flags of every nation, and which terminates in
those two terrible points so dreaded by mariners, Cape Horn and the
Cape of Tempests.

The Nautilus was piercing the water with its sharp spur, after having
accomplished nearly ten thousand leagues in three months and a half, a
distance greater than the great circle of the earth.  Where were we
going now, and what was reserved for the future?  The Nautilus, leaving
the Straits of Gibraltar, had gone far out.  It returned to the surface
of the waves, and our daily walks on the platform were restored to us.

I mounted at once, accompanied by Ned Land and Conseil.  At a distance
of about twelve miles, Cape St. Vincent was dimly to be seen, forming
the south-western point of the Spanish peninsula.  A strong southerly
gale was blowing.  The sea was swollen and billowy; it made the
Nautilus rock violently.  It was almost impossible to keep one's foot
on the platform, which the heavy rolls of the sea beat over every
instant.  So we descended after inhaling some mouthfuls of fresh air.

I returned to my room, Conseil to his cabin; but the Canadian, with a
preoccupied air, followed me.  Our rapid passage across the
Mediterranean had not allowed him to put his project into execution,
and he could not help showing his disappointment.  When the door of my
room was shut, he sat down and looked at me silently.

"Friend Ned," said I, "I understand you; but you cannot reproach
yourself.  To have attempted to leave the Nautilus under the
circumstances would have been folly."

Ned Land did not answer; his compressed lips and frowning brow showed
with him the violent possession this fixed idea had taken of his mind.

"Let us see," I continued; "we need not despair yet.  We are going up
the coast of Portugal again; France and England are not far off, where
we can easily find refuge.  Now if the Nautilus, on leaving the Straits
of Gibraltar, had gone to the south, if it had carried us towards
regions where there were no continents, I should share your uneasiness.
But we know now that Captain Nemo does not fly from civilised seas, and
in some days I think you can act with security."

Ned Land still looked at me fixedly; at length his fixed lips parted,
and he said, "It is for to-night."

I drew myself up suddenly.  I was, I admit, little prepared for this
communication.  I wanted to answer the Canadian, but words would not
come.

"We agreed to wait for an opportunity," continued Ned Land, "and the
opportunity has arrived.  This night we shall be but a few miles from
the Spanish coast.  It is cloudy.  The wind blows freely.  I have your
word, M. Aronnax, and I rely upon you."

As I was silent, the Canadian approached me.

"To-night, at nine o'clock," said he.  "I have warned Conseil.  At that
moment Captain Nemo will be shut up in his room, probably in bed.
Neither the engineers nor the ship's crew can see us.  Conseil and I
will gain the central staircase, and you, M. Aronnax, will remain in
the library, two steps from us, waiting my signal.  The oars, the mast,
and the sail are in the canoe.  I have even succeeded in getting some
provisions.  I have procured an English wrench, to unfasten the bolts
which attach it to the shell of the Nautilus.  So all is ready, till
to-night."

"The sea is bad."

"That I allow," replied the Canadian; "but we must risk that.  Liberty
is worth paying for; besides, the boat is strong, and a few miles with
a fair wind to carry us is no great thing.  Who knows but by to-morrow
we may be a hundred leagues away?  Let circumstances only favour us,
and by ten or eleven o'clock we shall have landed on some spot of terra
firma, alive or dead.  But adieu now till to-night."

With these words the Canadian withdrew, leaving me almost dumb.  I had
imagined that, the chance gone, I should have time to reflect and
discuss the matter.  My obstinate companion had given me no time; and,
after all, what could I have said to him?  Ned Land was perfectly
right.  There was almost the opportunity to profit by.  Could I retract
my word, and take upon myself the responsibility of compromising the
future of my companions?  To-morrow Captain Nemo might take us far from
all land.

At that moment a rather loud hissing noise told me that the reservoirs
were filling, and that the Nautilus was sinking under the waves of the
Atlantic.

A sad day I passed, between the desire of regaining my liberty of
action and of abandoning the wonderful Nautilus, and leaving my
submarine studies incomplete.

What dreadful hours I passed thus!  Sometimes seeing myself and
companions safely landed, sometimes wishing, in spite of my reason,
that some unforeseen circumstance, would prevent the realisation of Ned
Land's project.

Twice I went to the saloon.  I wished to consult the compass.  I wished
to see if the direction the Nautilus was taking was bringing us nearer
or taking us farther from the coast.  But no; the Nautilus kept in
Portuguese waters.

I must therefore take my part and prepare for flight.  My luggage was
not heavy; my notes, nothing more.

As to Captain Nemo, I asked myself what he would think of our escape;
what trouble, what wrong it might cause him and what he might do in
case of its discovery or failure.  Certainly I had no cause to complain
of him; on the contrary, never was hospitality freer than his.  In
leaving him I could not be taxed with ingratitude.  No oath bound us to
him.  It was on the strength of circumstances he relied, and not upon
our word, to fix us for ever.

I had not seen the Captain since our visit to the Island of Santorin.
Would chance bring me to his presence before our departure?  I wished
it, and I feared it at the same time.  I listened if I could hear him
walking the room contiguous to mine.  No sound reached my ear.  I felt
an unbearable uneasiness.  This day of waiting seemed eternal.  Hours
struck too slowly to keep pace with my impatience.

My dinner was served in my room as usual.  I ate but little; I was too
preoccupied.  I left the table at seven o'clock. A hundred and twenty
minutes (I counted them) still separated me from the moment in which I
was to join Ned Land.  My agitation redoubled.  My pulse beat
violently.  I could not remain quiet.  I went and came, hoping to calm
my troubled spirit by constant movement.  The idea of failure in our
bold enterprise was the least painful of my anxieties; but the thought
of seeing our project discovered before leaving the Nautilus, of being
brought before Captain Nemo, irritated, or (what was worse) saddened,
at my desertion, made my heart beat.

I wanted to see the saloon for the last time.  I descended the stairs
and arrived in the museum, where I had passed so many useful and
agreeable hours.  I looked at all its riches, all its treasures, like a
man on the eve of an eternal exile, who was leaving never to return.

These wonders of Nature, these masterpieces of art, amongst which for
so many days my life had been concentrated, I was going to abandon them
for ever!  I should like to have taken a last look through the windows
of the saloon into the waters of the Atlantic:  but the panels were
hermetically closed, and a cloak of steel separated me from that ocean
which I had not yet explored.

In passing through the saloon, I came near the door let into the angle
which opened into the Captain's room.  To my great surprise, this door
was ajar.  I drew back involuntarily.  If Captain Nemo should be in his
room, he could see me.  But, hearing no sound, I drew nearer.  The room
was deserted.  I pushed open the door and took some steps forward.
Still the same monklike severity of aspect.

Suddenly the clock struck eight.  The first beat of the hammer on the
bell awoke me from my dreams.  I trembled as if an invisible eye had
plunged into my most secret thoughts, and I hurried from the room.

There my eye fell upon the compass.  Our course was still north.  The
log indicated moderate speed, the manometer a depth of about sixty feet.

I returned to my room, clothed myself warmly--sea boots, an otterskin
cap, a great coat of byssus, lined with sealskin; I was ready, I was
waiting.  The vibration of the screw alone broke the deep silence which
reigned on board.  I listened attentively.  Would no loud voice
suddenly inform me that Ned Land had been surprised in his projected
flight.  A mortal dread hung over me, and I vainly tried to regain my
accustomed coolness.

At a few minutes to nine, I put my ear to the Captain's door.  No
noise.  I left my room and returned to the saloon, which was half in
obscurity, but deserted.

I opened the door communicating with the library.  The same
insufficient light, the same solitude.  I placed myself near the door
leading to the central staircase, and there waited for Ned Land's
signal.

At that moment the trembling of the screw sensibly diminished, then it
stopped entirely.  The silence was now only disturbed by the beatings
of my own heart.  Suddenly a slight shock was felt; and I knew that the
Nautilus had stopped at the bottom of the ocean.  My uneasiness
increased.  The Canadian's signal did not come.  I felt inclined to
join Ned Land and beg of him to put off his attempt.  I felt that we
were not sailing under our usual conditions.

At this moment the door of the large saloon opened, and Captain Nemo
appeared.  He saw me, and without further preamble began in an amiable
tone of voice:

"Ah, sir!  I have been looking for you.  Do you know the history of
Spain?"

Now, one might know the history of one's own country by heart; but in
the condition I was at the time, with troubled mind and head quite
lost, I could not have said a word of it.

"Well," continued Captain Nemo, "you heard my question!  Do you know
the history of Spain?"

"Very slightly," I answered.

"Well, here are learned men having to learn," said the Captain.  "Come,
sit down, and I will tell you a curious episode in this history.  Sir,
listen well," said he; "this history will interest you on one side, for
it will answer a question which doubtless you have not been able to
solve."

"I listen, Captain," said I, not knowing what my interlocutor was
driving at, and asking myself if this incident was bearing on our
projected flight.

"Sir, if you have no objection, we will go back to 1702.  You cannot be
ignorant that your king, Louis XIV, thinking that the gesture of a
potentate was sufficient to bring the Pyrenees under his yoke, had
imposed the Duke of Anjou, his grandson, on the Spaniards.  This prince
reigned more or less badly under the name of Philip V, and had a strong
party against him abroad.  Indeed, the preceding year, the royal houses
of Holland, Austria, and England had concluded a treaty of alliance at
the Hague, with the intention of plucking the crown of Spain from the
head of Philip V, and placing it on that of an archduke to whom they
prematurely gave the title of Charles III.

"Spain must resist this coalition; but she was almost entirely
unprovided with either soldiers or sailors.  However, money would not
fail them, provided that their galleons, laden with gold and silver
from America, once entered their ports.  And about the end of 1702 they
expected a rich convoy which France was escorting with a fleet of
twenty-three vessels, commanded by Admiral Chateau-Renaud, for the
ships of the coalition were already beating the Atlantic.  This convoy
was to go to Cadiz, but the Admiral, hearing that an English fleet was
cruising in those waters, resolved to make for a French port.

"The Spanish commanders of the convoy objected to this decision.  They
wanted to be taken to a Spanish port, and, if not to Cadiz, into Vigo
Bay, situated on the northwest coast of Spain, and which was not
blocked.

"Admiral Chateau-Renaud had the rashness to obey this injunction, and
the galleons entered Vigo Bay.

"Unfortunately, it formed an open road which could not be defended in
any way.  They must therefore hasten to unload the galleons before the
arrival of the combined fleet; and time would not have failed them had
not a miserable question of rivalry suddenly arisen.

"You are following the chain of events?" asked Captain Nemo.

"Perfectly," said I, not knowing the end proposed by this historical
lesson.

"I will continue.  This is what passed.  The merchants of Cadiz had a
privilege by which they had the right of receiving all merchandise
coming from the West Indies.  Now, to disembark these ingots at the
port of Vigo was depriving them of their rights.  They complained at
Madrid, and obtained the consent of the weak-minded Philip that the
convoy, without discharging its cargo, should remain sequestered in the
roads of Vigo until the enemy had disappeared.

"But whilst coming to this decision, on the 22nd of October, 1702, the
English vessels arrived in Vigo Bay, when Admiral Chateau-Renaud, in
spite of inferior forces, fought bravely.  But, seeing that the
treasure must fall into the enemy's hands, he burnt and scuttled every
galleon, which went to the bottom with their immense riches."

Captain Nemo stopped.  I admit I could not see yet why this history
should interest me.

"Well?"  I asked.

"Well, M. Aronnax," replied Captain Nemo, "we are in that Vigo Bay; and
it rests with yourself whether you will penetrate its mysteries."

The Captain rose, telling me to follow him.  I had had time to recover.
I obeyed.  The saloon was dark, but through the transparent glass the
waves were sparkling.  I looked.

For half a mile around the Nautilus, the waters seemed bathed in
electric light.  The sandy bottom was clean and bright.  Some of the
ship's crew in their diving-dresses were clearing away half-rotten
barrels and empty cases from the midst of the blackened wrecks.  From
these cases and from these barrels escaped ingots of gold and silver,
cascades of piastres and jewels.  The sand was heaped up with them.
Laden with their precious booty, the men returned to the Nautilus,
disposed of their burden, and went back to this inexhaustible fishery
of gold and silver.

I understood now.  This was the scene of the battle of the 22nd of
October, 1702.  Here on this very spot the galleons laden for the
Spanish Government had sunk.  Here Captain Nemo came, according to his
wants, to pack up those millions with which he burdened the Nautilus.
It was for him and him alone America had given up her precious metals.
He was heir direct, without anyone to share, in those treasures torn
from the Incas and from the conquered of Ferdinand Cortez.

"Did you know, sir," he asked, smiling, "that the sea contained such
riches?"

"I knew," I answered, "that they value money held in suspension in
these waters at two millions."

"Doubtless; but to extract this money the expense would be greater than
the profit.  Here, on the contrary, I have but to pick up what man has
lost--and not only in Vigo Bay, but in a thousand other ports where
shipwrecks have happened, and which are marked on my submarine map.
Can you understand now the source of the millions I am worth?"

"I understand, Captain.  But allow me to tell you that in exploring
Vigo Bay you have only been beforehand with a rival society."

"And which?"

"A society which has received from the Spanish Government the privilege
of seeking those buried galleons.  The shareholders are led on by the
allurement of an enormous bounty, for they value these rich shipwrecks
at five hundred millions."

"Five hundred millions they were," answered Captain Nemo, "but they are
so no longer."

"Just so," said I; "and a warning to those shareholders would be an act
of charity.  But who knows if it would be well received?  What gamblers
usually regret above all is less the loss of their money than of their
foolish hopes.  After all, I pity them less than the thousands of
unfortunates to whom so much riches well-distributed would have been
profitable, whilst for them they will be for ever barren."

I had no sooner expressed this regret than I felt that it must have
wounded Captain Nemo.

"Barren!" he exclaimed, with animation.  "Do you think then, sir, that
these riches are lost because I gather them?  Is it for myself alone,
according to your idea, that I take the trouble to collect these
treasures?  Who told you that I did not make a good use of it?  Do you
think I am ignorant that there are suffering beings and oppressed races
on this earth, miserable creatures to console, victims to avenge?  Do
you not understand?"

Captain Nemo stopped at these last words, regretting perhaps that he
had spoken so much.  But I had guessed that, whatever the motive which
had forced him to seek independence under the sea, it had left him
still a man, that his heart still beat for the sufferings of humanity,
and that his immense charity was for oppressed races as well as
individuals.  And I then understood for whom those millions were
destined which were forwarded by Captain Nemo when the Nautilus was
cruising in the waters of Crete.



CHAPTER IX

A VANISHED CONTINENT

The next morning, the 19th of February, I saw the Canadian enter my
room.  I expected this visit.  He looked very disappointed.

"Well, sir?" said he.

"Well, Ned, fortune was against us yesterday."

"Yes; that Captain must needs stop exactly at the hour we intended
leaving his vessel."

"Yes, Ned, he had business at his bankers."

"His bankers!"

"Or rather his banking-house; by that I mean the ocean, where his
riches are safer than in the chests of the State."

I then related to the Canadian the incidents of the preceding night,
hoping to bring him back to the idea of not abandoning the Captain; but
my recital had no other result than an energetically expressed regret
from Ned that he had not been able to take a walk on the battlefield of
Vigo on his own account.

"However," said he, "all is not ended.  It is only a blow of the
harpoon lost.  Another time we must succeed; and to-night, if
necessary----"

"In what direction is the Nautilus going?"  I asked.

"I do not know," replied Ned.

"Well, at noon we shall see the point."

The Canadian returned to Conseil.  As soon as I was dressed, I went
into the saloon.  The compass was not reassuring.  The course of the
Nautilus was S.S.W. We were turning our backs on Europe.

I waited with some impatience till the ship's place was pricked on the
chart.  At about half-past eleven the reservoirs were emptied, and our
vessel rose to the surface of the ocean.  I rushed towards the
platform.  Ned Land had preceded me.  No more land in sight.  Nothing
but an immense sea.  Some sails on the horizon, doubtless those going
to San Roque in search of favourable winds for doubling the Cape of
Good Hope.  The weather was cloudy.  A gale of wind was preparing.  Ned
raved, and tried to pierce the cloudy horizon.  He still hoped that
behind all that fog stretched the land he so longed for.

At noon the sun showed itself for an instant.  The second profited by
this brightness to take its height.  Then, the sea becoming more
billowy, we descended, and the panel closed.

An hour after, upon consulting the chart, I saw the position of the
Nautilus was marked at 16° 17' long., and 33° 22' lat., at 150
leagues from the nearest coast.  There was no means of flight, and I
leave you to imagine the rage of the Canadian when I informed him of
our situation.

For myself, I was not particularly sorry.  I felt lightened of the load
which had oppressed me, and was able to return with some degree of
calmness to my accustomed work.

That night, about eleven o'clock, I received a most unexpected visit
from Captain Nemo.  He asked me very graciously if I felt fatigued from
my watch of the preceding night.  I answered in the negative.

"Then, M. Aronnax, I propose a curious excursion."

"Propose, Captain?"

"You have hitherto only visited the submarine depths by daylight, under
the brightness of the sun.  Would it suit you to see them in the
darkness of the night?"

"Most willingly."

"I warn you, the way will be tiring.  We shall have far to walk, and
must climb a mountain.  The roads are not well kept."

"What you say, Captain, only heightens my curiosity; I am ready to
follow you."

"Come then, sir, we will put on our diving-dresses."

Arrived at the robing-room, I saw that neither of my companions nor any
of the ship's crew were to follow us on this excursion.  Captain Nemo
had not even proposed my taking with me either Ned or Conseil.

In a few moments we had put on our diving-dresses; they placed on our
backs the reservoirs, abundantly filled with air, but no electric lamps
were prepared.  I called the Captain's attention to the fact.

"They will be useless," he replied.

I thought I had not heard aright, but I could not repeat my
observation, for the Captain's head had already disappeared in its
metal case.  I finished harnessing myself.  I felt them put an
iron-pointed stick into my hand, and some minutes later, after going
through the usual form, we set foot on the bottom of the Atlantic at a
depth of 150 fathoms.  Midnight was near.  The waters were profoundly
dark, but Captain Nemo pointed out in the distance a reddish spot, a
sort of large light shining brilliantly about two miles from the
Nautilus.  What this fire might be, what could feed it, why and how it
lit up the liquid mass, I could not say.  In any case, it did light our
way, vaguely, it is true, but I soon accustomed myself to the peculiar
darkness, and I understood, under such circumstances, the uselessness
of the Ruhmkorff apparatus.

As we advanced, I heard a kind of pattering above my head.  The noise
redoubling, sometimes producing a continual shower, I soon understood
the cause.  It was rain falling violently, and crisping the surface of
the waves.  Instinctively the thought flashed across my mind that I
should be wet through!  By the water! in the midst of the water!  I
could not help laughing at the odd idea.  But, indeed, in the thick
diving-dress, the liquid element is no longer felt, and one only seems
to be in an atmosphere somewhat denser than the terrestrial atmosphere.
Nothing more.

After half an hour's walk the soil became stony.  Medusae, microscopic
crustacea, and pennatules lit it slightly with their phosphorescent
gleam.  I caught a glimpse of pieces of stone covered with millions of
zoophytes and masses of sea weed.  My feet often slipped upon this
sticky carpet of sea weed, and without my iron-tipped stick I should
have fallen more than once.  In turning round, I could still see the
whitish lantern of the Nautilus beginning to pale in the distance.

But the rosy light which guided us increased and lit up the horizon.
The presence of this fire under water puzzled me in the highest degree.
Was I going towards a natural phenomenon as yet unknown to the savants
of the earth?  Or even (for this thought crossed my brain) had the hand
of man aught to do with this conflagration?  Had he fanned this flame?
Was I to meet in these depths companions and friends of Captain Nemo
whom he was going to visit, and who, like him, led this strange
existence?  Should I find down there a whole colony of exiles who,
weary of the miseries of this earth, had sought and found independence
in the deep ocean?  All these foolish and unreasonable ideas pursued
me.  And in this condition of mind, over-excited by the succession of
wonders continually passing before my eyes, I should not have been
surprised to meet at the bottom of the sea one of those submarine towns
of which Captain Nemo dreamed.

Our road grew lighter and lighter.  The white glimmer came in rays from
the summit of a mountain about 800 feet high.  But what I saw was
simply a reflection, developed by the clearness of the waters.  The
source of this inexplicable light was a fire on the opposite side of
the mountain.

In the midst of this stony maze furrowing the bottom of the Atlantic,
Captain Nemo advanced without hesitation.  He knew this dreary road.
Doubtless he had often travelled over it, and could not lose himself.
I followed him with unshaken confidence.  He seemed to me like a genie
of the sea; and, as he walked before me, I could not help admiring his
stature, which was outlined in black on the luminous horizon.

It was one in the morning when we arrived at the first slopes of the
mountain; but to gain access to them we must venture through the
difficult paths of a vast copse.

Yes; a copse of dead trees, without leaves, without sap, trees
petrified by the action of the water and here and there overtopped by
gigantic pines.  It was like a coal-pit still standing, holding by the
roots to the broken soil, and whose branches, like fine black paper
cuttings, showed distinctly on the watery ceiling.  Picture to yourself
a forest in the Hartz hanging on to the sides of the mountain, but a
forest swallowed up.  The paths were encumbered with seaweed and fucus,
between which grovelled a whole world of crustacea.  I went along,
climbing the rocks, striding over extended trunks, breaking the sea
bind-weed which hung from one tree to the other; and frightening the
fishes, which flew from branch to branch.  Pressing onward, I felt no
fatigue.  I followed my guide, who was never tired.  What a spectacle!
How can I express it? how paint the aspect of those woods and rocks in
this medium--their under parts dark and wild, the upper coloured with
red tints, by that light which the reflecting powers of the waters
doubled?  We climbed rocks which fell directly after with gigantic
bounds and the low growling of an avalanche.  To right and left ran
long, dark galleries, where sight was lost.  Here opened vast glades
which the hand of man seemed to have worked; and I sometimes asked
myself if some inhabitant of these submarine regions would not suddenly
appear to me.

But Captain Nemo was still mounting.  I could not stay behind.  I
followed boldly.  My stick gave me good help.  A false step would have
been dangerous on the narrow passes sloping down to the sides of the
gulfs; but I walked with firm step, without feeling any giddiness.  Now
I jumped a crevice, the depth of which would have made me hesitate had
it been among the glaciers on the land; now I ventured on the unsteady
trunk of a tree thrown across from one abyss to the other, without
looking under my feet, having only eyes to admire the wild sites of
this region.

There, monumental rocks, leaning on their regularly-cut bases, seemed
to defy all laws of equilibrium.  From between their stony knees trees
sprang, like a jet under heavy pressure, and upheld others which upheld
them.  Natural towers, large scarps, cut perpendicularly, like a
"curtain," inclined at an angle which the laws of gravitation could
never have tolerated in terrestrial regions.

Two hours after quitting the Nautilus we had crossed the line of trees,
and a hundred feet above our heads rose the top of the mountain, which
cast a shadow on the brilliant irradiation of the opposite slope.  Some
petrified shrubs ran fantastically here and there.  Fishes got up under
our feet like birds in the long grass.  The massive rocks were rent
with impenetrable fractures, deep grottos, and unfathomable holes, at
the bottom of which formidable creatures might be heard moving.  My
blood curdled when I saw enormous antennae blocking my road, or some
frightful claw closing with a noise in the shadow of some cavity.
Millions of luminous spots shone brightly in the midst of the darkness.
They were the eyes of giant crustacea crouched in their holes; giant
lobsters setting themselves up like halberdiers, and moving their claws
with the clicking sound of pincers; titanic crabs, pointed like a gun
on its carriage; and frightful-looking poulps, interweaving their
tentacles like a living nest of serpents.

We had now arrived on the first platform, where other surprises awaited
me.  Before us lay some picturesque ruins, which betrayed the hand of
man and not that of the Creator.  There were vast heaps of stone,
amongst which might be traced the vague and shadowy forms of castles
and temples, clothed with a world of blossoming zoophytes, and over
which, instead of ivy, sea-weed and fucus threw a thick vegetable
mantle.  But what was this portion of the globe which had been
swallowed by cataclysms?  Who had placed those rocks and stones like
cromlechs of prehistoric times?  Where was I?  Whither had Captain
Nemo's fancy hurried me?

I would fain have asked him; not being able to, I stopped him--I seized
his arm.  But, shaking his head, and pointing to the highest point of
the mountain, he seemed to say:

"Come, come along; come higher!"

I followed, and in a few minutes I had climbed to the top, which for a
circle of ten yards commanded the whole mass of rock.

I looked down the side we had just climbed.  The mountain did not rise
more than seven or eight hundred feet above the level of the plain; but
on the opposite side it commanded from twice that height the depths of
this part of the Atlantic.  My eyes ranged far over a large space lit
by a violent fulguration.  In fact, the mountain was a volcano.

At fifty feet above the peak, in the midst of a rain of stones and
scoriae, a large crater was vomiting forth torrents of lava which fell
in a cascade of fire into the bosom of the liquid mass.  Thus situated,
this volcano lit the lower plain like an immense torch, even to the
extreme limits of the horizon.  I said that the submarine crater threw
up lava, but no flames.  Flames require the oxygen of the air to feed
upon and cannot be developed under water; but streams of lava, having
in themselves the principles of their incandescence, can attain a white
heat, fight vigorously against the liquid element, and turn it to
vapour by contact.

Rapid currents bearing all these gases in diffusion and torrents of
lava slid to the bottom of the mountain like an eruption of Vesuvius on
another Terra del Greco.

There indeed under my eyes, ruined, destroyed, lay a town--its roofs
open to the sky, its temples fallen, its arches dislocated, its columns
lying on the ground, from which one would still recognise the massive
character of Tuscan architecture.  Further on, some remains of a
gigantic aqueduct; here the high base of an Acropolis, with the
floating outline of a Parthenon; there traces of a quay, as if an
ancient port had formerly abutted on the borders of the ocean, and
disappeared with its merchant vessels and its war-galleys. Farther on
again, long lines of sunken walls and broad, deserted streets--a
perfect Pompeii escaped beneath the waters.  Such was the sight that
Captain Nemo brought before my eyes!

Where was I?  Where was I?  I must know at any cost.  I tried to speak,
but Captain Nemo stopped me by a gesture, and, picking up a piece of
chalk-stone, advanced to a rock of black basalt, and traced the one
word:


ATLANTIS


What a light shot through my mind!  Atlantis! the Atlantis of Plato,
that continent denied by Origen and Humbolt, who placed its
disappearance amongst the legendary tales.  I had it there now before
my eyes, bearing upon it the unexceptionable testimony of its
catastrophe.  The region thus engulfed was beyond Europe, Asia, and
Lybia, beyond the columns of Hercules, where those powerful people, the
Atlantides, lived, against whom the first wars of ancient Greeks were
waged.

Thus, led by the strangest destiny, I was treading under foot the
mountains of this continent, touching with my hand those ruins a
thousand generations old and contemporary with the geological epochs.
I was walking on the very spot where the contemporaries of the first
man had walked.

Whilst I was trying to fix in my mind every detail of this grand
landscape, Captain Nemo remained motionless, as if petrified in mute
ecstasy, leaning on a mossy stone.  Was he dreaming of those
generations long since disappeared?  Was he asking them the secret of
human destiny?  Was it here this strange man came to steep himself in
historical recollections, and live again this ancient life--he who
wanted no modern one?  What would I not have given to know his
thoughts, to share them, to understand them!  We remained for an hour
at this place, contemplating the vast plains under the brightness of
the lava, which was some times wonderfully intense.  Rapid tremblings
ran along the mountain caused by internal bubblings, deep noise,
distinctly transmitted through the liquid medium were echoed with
majestic grandeur.  At this moment the moon appeared through the mass
of waters and threw her pale rays on the buried continent.  It was but
a gleam, but what an indescribable effect!  The Captain rose, cast one
last look on the immense plain, and then bade me follow him.

We descended the mountain rapidly, and, the mineral forest once passed,
I saw the lantern of the Nautilus shining like a star.  The Captain
walked straight to it, and we got on board as the first rays of light
whitened the surface of the ocean.



CHAPTER X

THE SUBMARINE COAL-MINES

The next day, the 20th of February, I awoke very late:  the fatigues of
the previous night had prolonged my sleep until eleven o'clock. I
dressed quickly, and hastened to find the course the Nautilus was
taking.  The instruments showed it to be still toward the south, with a
speed of twenty miles an hour and a depth of fifty fathoms.

The species of fishes here did not differ much from those already
noticed.  There were rays of giant size, five yards long, and endowed
with great muscular strength, which enabled them to shoot above the
waves; sharks of many kinds; amongst others, one fifteen feet long,
with triangular sharp teeth, and whose transparency rendered it almost
invisible in the water.

Amongst bony fish Conseil noticed some about three yards long, armed at
the upper jaw with a piercing sword; other bright-coloured creatures,
known in the time of Aristotle by the name of the sea-dragon, which are
dangerous to capture on account of the spikes on their back.

About four o'clock, the soil, generally composed of a thick mud mixed
with petrified wood, changed by degrees, and it became more stony, and
seemed strewn with conglomerate and pieces of basalt, with a sprinkling
of lava.  I thought that a mountainous region was succeeding the long
plains; and accordingly, after a few evolutions of the Nautilus, I saw
the southerly horizon blocked by a high wall which seemed to close all
exit.  Its summit evidently passed the level of the ocean.  It must be
a continent, or at least an island--one of the Canaries, or of the Cape
Verde Islands.  The bearings not being yet taken, perhaps designedly, I
was ignorant of our exact position.  In any case, such a wall seemed to
me to mark the limits of that Atlantis, of which we had in reality
passed over only the smallest part.

Much longer should I have remained at the window admiring the beauties
of sea and sky, but the panels closed.  At this moment the Nautilus
arrived at the side of this high, perpendicular wall.  What it would
do, I could not guess.  I returned to my room; it no longer moved.  I
laid myself down with the full intention of waking after a few hours'
sleep; but it was eight o'clock the next day when I entered the saloon.
I looked at the manometer.  It told me that the Nautilus was floating
on the surface of the ocean.  Besides, I heard steps on the platform.
I went to the panel.  It was open; but, instead of broad daylight, as I
expected, I was surrounded by profound darkness.  Where were we?  Was I
mistaken?  Was it still night?  No; not a star was shining and night
has not that utter darkness.

I knew not what to think, when a voice near me said:

"Is that you, Professor?"

"Ah!  Captain," I answered, "where are we?"

"Underground, sir."

"Underground!"  I exclaimed.  "And the Nautilus floating still?"

"It always floats."

"But I do not understand."

"Wait a few minutes, our lantern will be lit, and, if you like light
places, you will be satisfied."

I stood on the platform and waited.  The darkness was so complete that
I could not even see Captain Nemo; but, looking to the zenith, exactly
above my head, I seemed to catch an undecided gleam, a kind of twilight
filling a circular hole.  At this instant the lantern was lit, and its
vividness dispelled the faint light.  I closed my dazzled eyes for an
instant, and then looked again.  The Nautilus was stationary, floating
near a mountain which formed a sort of quay.  The lake, then,
supporting it was a lake imprisoned by a circle of walls, measuring two
miles in diameter and six in circumference.  Its level (the manometer
showed) could only be the same as the outside level, for there must
necessarily be a communication between the lake and the sea.  The high
partitions, leaning forward on their base, grew into a vaulted roof
bearing the shape of an immense funnel turned upside down, the height
being about five or six hundred yards.  At the summit was a circular
orifice, by which I had caught the slight gleam of light, evidently
daylight.

"Where are we?"  I asked.

"In the very heart of an extinct volcano, the interior of which has
been invaded by the sea, after some great convulsion of the earth.
Whilst you were sleeping, Professor, the Nautilus penetrated to this
lagoon by a natural canal, which opens about ten yards beneath the
surface of the ocean.  This is its harbour of refuge, a sure,
commodious, and mysterious one, sheltered from all gales.  Show me, if
you can, on the coasts of any of your continents or islands, a road
which can give such perfect refuge from all storms."

"Certainly," I replied, "you are in safety here, Captain Nemo.  Who
could reach you in the heart of a volcano?  But did I not see an
opening at its summit?"

"Yes; its crater, formerly filled with lava, vapour, and flames, and
which now gives entrance to the life-giving air we breathe."

"But what is this volcanic mountain?"

"It belongs to one of the numerous islands with which this sea is
strewn--to vessels a simple sandbank--to us an immense cavern.  Chance
led me to discover it, and chance served me well."

"But of what use is this refuge, Captain?  The Nautilus wants no port."

"No, sir; but it wants electricity to make it move, and the wherewithal
to make the electricity--sodium to feed the elements, coal from which
to get the sodium, and a coal-mine to supply the coal.  And exactly on
this spot the sea covers entire forests embedded during the geological
periods, now mineralised and transformed into coal; for me they are an
inexhaustible mine."

"Your men follow the trade of miners here, then, Captain?"

"Exactly so.  These mines extend under the waves like the mines of
Newcastle.  Here, in their diving-dresses, pick axe and shovel in hand,
my men extract the coal, which I do not even ask from the mines of the
earth.  When I burn this combustible for the manufacture of sodium, the
smoke, escaping from the crater of the mountain, gives it the
appearance of a still-active volcano."

"And we shall see your companions at work?"

"No; not this time at least; for I am in a hurry to continue our
submarine tour of the earth.  So I shall content myself with drawing
from the reserve of sodium I already possess.  The time for loading is
one day only, and we continue our voyage.  So, if you wish to go over
the cavern and make the round of the lagoon, you must take advantage of
to-day, M. Aronnax."

I thanked the Captain and went to look for my companions, who had not
yet left their cabin.  I invited them to follow me without saying where
we were.  They mounted the platform.  Conseil, who was astonished at
nothing, seemed to look upon it as quite natural that he should wake
under a mountain, after having fallen asleep under the waves.  But Ned
Land thought of nothing but finding whether the cavern had any exit.
After breakfast, about ten o'clock, we went down on to the mountain.

"Here we are, once more on land," said Conseil.

"I do not call this land," said the Canadian.  "And besides, we are not
on it, but beneath it."

Between the walls of the mountains and the waters of the lake lay a
sandy shore which, at its greatest breadth, measured five hundred feet.
On this soil one might easily make the tour of the lake.  But the base
of the high partitions was stony ground, with volcanic locks and
enormous pumice-stones lying in picturesque heaps.  All these detached
masses, covered with enamel, polished by the action of the
subterraneous fires, shone resplendent by the light of our electric
lantern.  The mica dust from the shore, rising under our feet, flew
like a cloud of sparks.  The bottom now rose sensibly, and we soon
arrived at long circuitous slopes, or inclined planes, which took us
higher by degrees; but we were obliged to walk carefully among these
conglomerates, bound by no cement, the feet slipping on the glassy
crystal, felspar, and quartz.

The volcanic nature of this enormous excavation was confirmed on all
sides, and I pointed it out to my companions.

"Picture to yourselves," said I, "what this crater must have been when
filled with boiling lava, and when the level of the incandescent liquid
rose to the orifice of the mountain, as though melted on the top of a
hot plate."

"I can picture it perfectly," said Conseil.  "But, sir, will you tell
me why the Great Architect has suspended operations, and how it is that
the furnace is replaced by the quiet waters of the lake?"

"Most probably, Conseil, because some convulsion beneath the ocean
produced that very opening which has served as a passage for the
Nautilus.  Then the waters of the Atlantic rushed into the interior of
the mountain.  There must have been a terrible struggle between the two
elements, a struggle which ended in the victory of Neptune.  But many
ages have run out since then, and the submerged volcano is now a
peaceable grotto."

"Very well," replied Ned Land; "I accept the explanation, sir; but, in
our own interests, I regret that the opening of which you speak was not
made above the level of the sea."

"But, friend Ned," said Conseil, "if the passage had not been under the
sea, the Nautilus could not have gone through it."

We continued ascending.  The steps became more and more perpendicular
and narrow.  Deep excavations, which we were obliged to cross, cut them
here and there; sloping masses had to be turned.  We slid upon our
knees and crawled along.  But Conseil's dexterity and the Canadian's
strength surmounted all obstacles.  At a height of about 31 feet the
nature of the ground changed without becoming more practicable.  To the
conglomerate and trachyte succeeded black basalt, the first dispread in
layers full of bubbles, the latter forming regular prisms, placed like
a colonnade supporting the spring of the immense vault, an admirable
specimen of natural architecture.  Between the blocks of basalt wound
long streams of lava, long since grown cold, encrusted with bituminous
rays; and in some places there were spread large carpets of sulphur.  A
more powerful light shone through the upper crater, shedding a vague
glimmer over these volcanic depressions for ever buried in the bosom of
this extinguished mountain.  But our upward march was soon stopped at a
height of about two hundred and fifty feet by impassable obstacles.
There was a complete vaulted arch overhanging us, and our ascent was
changed to a circular walk.  At the last change vegetable life began to
struggle with the mineral.  Some shrubs, and even some trees, grew from
the fractures of the walls.  I recognised some euphorbias, with the
caustic sugar coming from them; heliotropes, quite incapable of
justifying their name, sadly drooped their clusters of flowers, both
their colour and perfume half gone.  Here and there some chrysanthemums
grew timidly at the foot of an aloe with long, sickly-looking leaves.
But between the streams of lava, I saw some little violets still
slightly perfumed, and I admit that I smelt them with delight.  Perfume
is the soul of the flower, and sea-flowers have no soul.

We had arrived at the foot of some sturdy dragon-trees, which had
pushed aside the rocks with their strong roots, when Ned Land exclaimed:

"Ah! sir, a hive! a hive!"

"A hive!"  I replied, with a gesture of incredulity.

"Yes, a hive," repeated the Canadian, "and bees humming round it."

I approached, and was bound to believe my own eyes.  There at a hole
bored in one of the dragon-trees were some thousands of these ingenious
insects, so common in all the Canaries, and whose produce is so much
esteemed.  Naturally enough, the Canadian wished to gather the honey,
and I could not well oppose his wish.  A quantity of dry leaves, mixed
with sulphur, he lit with a spark from his flint, and he began to smoke
out the bees.  The humming ceased by degrees, and the hive eventually
yielded several pounds of the sweetest honey, with which Ned Land
filled his haversack.

"When I have mixed this honey with the paste of the bread-fruit," said
he, "I shall be able to offer you a succulent cake."

[Transcriber's Note: 'bread-fruit' has been substituted for
'artocarpus' in this ed.]

"'Pon my word," said Conseil, "it will be gingerbread."

"Never mind the gingerbread," said I; "let us continue our interesting
walk."

At every turn of the path we were following, the lake appeared in all
its length and breadth.  The lantern lit up the whole of its peaceable
surface, which knew neither ripple nor wave.  The Nautilus remained
perfectly immovable.  On the platform, and on the mountain, the ship's
crew were working like black shadows clearly carved against the
luminous atmosphere.  We were now going round the highest crest of the
first layers of rock which upheld the roof.  I then saw that bees were
not the only representatives of the animal kingdom in the interior of
this volcano.  Birds of prey hovered here and there in the shadows, or
fled from their nests on the top of the rocks.  There were sparrow
hawks, with white breasts, and kestrels, and down the slopes scampered,
with their long legs, several fine fat bustards.  I leave anyone to
imagine the covetousness of the Canadian at the sight of this savoury
game, and whether he did not regret having no gun.  But he did his best
to replace the lead by stones, and, after several fruitless attempts,
he succeeded in wounding a magnificent bird.  To say that he risked his
life twenty times before reaching it is but the truth; but he managed
so well that the creature joined the honey-cakes in his bag.  We were
now obliged to descend toward the shore, the crest becoming
impracticable.  Above us the crater seemed to gape like the mouth of a
well.  From this place the sky could be clearly seen, and clouds,
dissipated by the west wind, leaving behind them, even on the summit of
the mountain, their misty remnants--certain proof that they were only
moderately high, for the volcano did not rise more than eight hundred
feet above the level of the ocean.  Half an hour after the Canadian's
last exploit we had regained the inner shore.  Here the flora was
represented by large carpets of marine crystal, a little umbelliferous
plant very good to pickle, which also bears the name of pierce-stone
and sea-fennel. Conseil gathered some bundles of it.  As to the fauna,
it might be counted by thousands of crustacea of all sorts, lobsters,
crabs, spider-crabs, chameleon shrimps, and a large number of shells,
rockfish, and limpets.  Three-quarters of an hour later we had finished
our circuitous walk and were on board.  The crew had just finished
loading the sodium, and the Nautilus could have left that instant.  But
Captain Nemo gave no order.  Did he wish to wait until night, and leave
the submarine passage secretly?  Perhaps so.  Whatever it might be, the
next day, the Nautilus, having left its port, steered clear of all land
at a few yards beneath the waves of the Atlantic.



CHAPTER XI

THE SARGASSO SEA

That day the Nautilus crossed a singular part of the Atlantic Ocean.
No one can be ignorant of the existence of a current of warm water
known by the name of the Gulf Stream.  After leaving the Gulf of
Florida, we went in the direction of Spitzbergen.  But before entering
the Gulf of Mexico, about 45° of N. lat., this current divides into
two arms, the principal one going towards the coast of Ireland and
Norway, whilst the second bends to the south about the height of the
Azores; then, touching the African shore, and describing a lengthened
oval, returns to the Antilles.  This second arm--it is rather a collar
than an arm--surrounds with its circles of warm water that portion of
the cold, quiet, immovable ocean called the Sargasso Sea, a perfect
lake in the open Atlantic: it takes no less than three years for the
great current to pass round it.  Such was the region the Nautilus was
now visiting, a perfect meadow, a close carpet of seaweed, fucus, and
tropical berries, so thick and so compact that the stem of a vessel
could hardly tear its way through it.  And Captain Nemo, not wishing to
entangle his screw in this herbaceous mass, kept some yards beneath the
surface of the waves.  The name Sargasso comes from the Spanish word
"sargazzo" which signifies kelp.  This kelp, or berry-plant, is the
principal formation of this immense bank.  And this is the reason why
these plants unite in the peaceful basin of the Atlantic.  The only
explanation which can be given, he says, seems to me to result from the
experience known to all the world.  Place in a vase some fragments of
cork or other floating body, and give to the water in the vase a
circular movement, the scattered fragments will unite in a group in the
centre of the liquid surface, that is to say, in the part least
agitated.  In the phenomenon we are considering, the Atlantic is the
vase, the Gulf Stream the circular current, and the Sargasso Sea the
central point at which the floating bodies unite.

I share Maury's opinion, and I was able to study the phenomenon in the
very midst, where vessels rarely penetrate.  Above us floated products
of all kinds, heaped up among these brownish plants; trunks of trees
torn from the Andes or the Rocky Mountains, and floated by the Amazon
or the Mississippi; numerous wrecks, remains of keels, or ships'
bottoms, side-planks stove in, and so weighted with shells and
barnacles that they could not again rise to the surface.  And time will
one day justify Maury's other opinion, that these substances thus
accumulated for ages will become petrified by the action of the water
and will then form inexhaustible coal-mines--a precious reserve
prepared by far-seeing Nature for the moment when men shall have
exhausted the mines of continents.

In the midst of this inextricable mass of plants and sea weed, I
noticed some charming pink halcyons and actiniae, with their long
tentacles trailing after them, and medusae, green, red, and blue.

All the day of the 22nd of February we passed in the Sargasso Sea,
where such fish as are partial to marine plants find abundant
nourishment.  The next, the ocean had returned to its accustomed
aspect.  From this time for nineteen days, from the 23rd of February to
the 12th of March, the Nautilus kept in the middle of the Atlantic,
carrying us at a constant speed of a hundred leagues in twenty-four
hours.  Captain Nemo evidently intended accomplishing his submarine
programme, and I imagined that he intended, after doubling Cape Horn,
to return to the Australian seas of the Pacific.  Ned Land had cause
for fear.  In these large seas, void of islands, we could not attempt
to leave the boat.  Nor had we any means of opposing Captain Nemo's
will.  Our only course was to submit; but what we could neither gain by
force nor cunning, I liked to think might be obtained by persuasion.
This voyage ended, would he not consent to restore our liberty, under
an oath never to reveal his existence?--an oath of honour which we
should have religiously kept.  But we must consider that delicate
question with the Captain.  But was I free to claim this liberty?  Had
he not himself said from the beginning, in the firmest manner, that the
secret of his life exacted from him our lasting imprisonment on board
the Nautilus?  And would not my four months' silence appear to him a
tacit acceptance of our situation?  And would not a return to the
subject result in raising suspicions which might be hurtful to our
projects, if at some future time a favourable opportunity offered to
return to them?

During the nineteen days mentioned above, no incident of any kind
happened to signalise our voyage.  I saw little of the Captain; he was
at work.  In the library I often found his books left open, especially
those on natural history.  My work on submarine depths, conned over by
him, was covered with marginal notes, often contradicting my theories
and systems; but the Captain contented himself with thus purging my
work; it was very rare for him to discuss it with me.  Sometimes I
heard the melancholy tones of his organ; but only at night, in the
midst of the deepest obscurity, when the Nautilus slept upon the
deserted ocean.  During this part of our voyage we sailed whole days on
the surface of the waves.  The sea seemed abandoned.  A few
sailing-vessels, on the road to India, were making for the Cape of Good
Hope.  One day we were followed by the boats of a whaler, who, no
doubt, took us for some enormous whale of great price; but Captain Nemo
did not wish the worthy fellows to lose their time and trouble, so
ended the chase by plunging under the water.  Our navigation continued
until the 13th of March; that day the Nautilus was employed in taking
soundings, which greatly interested me.  We had then made about 13,000
leagues since our departure from the high seas of the Pacific.  The
bearings gave us 45° 37' S. lat., and 37° 53' W. long.  It was
the same water in which Captain Denham of the Herald sounded 7,000
fathoms without finding the bottom.  There, too, Lieutenant Parker, of
the American frigate Congress, could not touch the bottom with 15,140
fathoms.  Captain Nemo intended seeking the bottom of the ocean by a
diagonal sufficiently lengthened by means of lateral planes placed at
an angle of 45° with the water-line of the Nautilus.  Then the
screw set to work at its maximum speed, its four blades beating the
waves with in describable force.  Under this powerful pressure, the
hull of the Nautilus quivered like a sonorous chord and sank regularly
under the water.

At 7,000 fathoms I saw some blackish tops rising from the midst of the
waters; but these summits might belong to high mountains like the
Himalayas or Mont Blanc, even higher; and the depth of the abyss
remained incalculable.  The Nautilus descended still lower, in spite of
the great pressure.  I felt the steel plates tremble at the fastenings
of the bolts; its bars bent, its partitions groaned; the windows of the
saloon seemed to curve under the pressure of the waters.  And this firm
structure would doubtless have yielded, if, as its Captain had said, it
had not been capable of resistance like a solid block.  We had attained
a depth of 16,000 yards (four leagues), and the sides of the Nautilus
then bore a pressure of 1,600 atmospheres, that is to say, 3,200 lb.
to each square two-fifths of an inch of its surface.

"What a situation to be in!"  I exclaimed.  "To overrun these deep
regions where man has never trod!  Look, Captain, look at these
magnificent rocks, these uninhabited grottoes, these lowest receptacles
of the globe, where life is no longer possible!  What unknown sights
are here!  Why should we be unable to preserve a remembrance of them?"

"Would you like to carry away more than the remembrance?" said Captain
Nemo.

"What do you mean by those words?"

"I mean to say that nothing is easier than to make a photographic view
of this submarine region."

I had not time to express my surprise at this new proposition, when, at
Captain Nemo's call, an objective was brought into the saloon.  Through
the widely-opened panel, the liquid mass was bright with electricity,
which was distributed with such uniformity that not a shadow, not a
gradation, was to be seen in our manufactured light.  The Nautilus
remained motionless, the force of its screw subdued by the inclination
of its planes: the instrument was propped on the bottom of the oceanic
site, and in a few seconds we had obtained a perfect negative.

But, the operation being over, Captain Nemo said, "Let us go up; we
must not abuse our position, nor expose the Nautilus too long to such
great pressure."

"Go up again!"  I exclaimed.

"Hold well on."

I had not time to understand why the Captain cautioned me thus, when I
was thrown forward on to the carpet.  At a signal from the Captain, its
screw was shipped, and its blades raised vertically; the Nautilus shot
into the air like a balloon, rising with stunning rapidity, and cutting
the mass of waters with a sonorous agitation.  Nothing was visible; and
in four minutes it had shot through the four leagues which separated it
from the ocean, and, after emerging like a flying-fish, fell, making
the waves rebound to an enormous height.



CHAPTER XII

CACHALOTS AND WHALES

During the nights of the 13th and 14th of March, the Nautilus returned
to its southerly course.  I fancied that, when on a level with Cape
Horn, he would turn the helm westward, in order to beat the Pacific
seas, and so complete the tour of the world.  He did nothing of the
kind, but continued on his way to the southern regions.  Where was he
going to?  To the pole?  It was madness!  I began to think that the
Captain's temerity justified Ned Land's fears.  For some time past the
Canadian had not spoken to me of his projects of flight; he was less
communicative, almost silent.  I could see that this lengthened
imprisonment was weighing upon him, and I felt that rage was burning
within him.  When he met the Captain, his eyes lit up with suppressed
anger; and I feared that his natural violence would lead him into some
extreme.  That day, the 14th of March, Conseil and he came to me in my
room.  I inquired the cause of their visit.

"A simple question to ask you, sir," replied the Canadian.

"Speak, Ned."

"How many men are there on board the Nautilus, do you think?"

"I cannot tell, my friend."

"I should say that its working does not require a large crew."

"Certainly, under existing conditions, ten men, at the most, ought to
be enough."

"Well, why should there be any more?"

"Why?"  I replied, looking fixedly at Ned Land, whose meaning was easy
to guess.  "Because," I added, "if my surmises are correct, and if I
have well understood the Captain's existence, the Nautilus is not only
a vessel: it is also a place of refuge for those who, like its
commander, have broken every tie upon earth."

"Perhaps so," said Conseil; "but, in any case, the Nautilus can only
contain a certain number of men.  Could not you, sir, estimate their
maximum?"

"How, Conseil?"

"By calculation; given the size of the vessel, which you know, sir, and
consequently the quantity of air it contains, knowing also how much
each man expends at a breath, and comparing these results with the fact
that the Nautilus is obliged to go to the surface every twenty-four
hours."

Conseil had not finished the sentence before I saw what he was driving
at.

"I understand," said I; "but that calculation, though simple enough,
can give but a very uncertain result."

"Never mind," said Ned Land urgently.

"Here it is, then," said I. "In one hour each man consumes the oxygen
contained in twenty gallons of air; and in twenty-four, that contained
in 480 gallons.  We must, therefore find how many times 480 gallons of
air the Nautilus contains."

"Just so," said Conseil.

"Or," I continued, "the size of the Nautilus being 1,500 tons; and one
ton holding 200 gallons, it contains 300,000 gallons of air, which,
divided by 480, gives a quotient of 625.  Which means to say, strictly
speaking, that the air contained in the Nautilus would suffice for 625
men for twenty-four hours."

"Six hundred and twenty-five!" repeated Ned.

"But remember that all of us, passengers, sailors, and officers
included, would not form a tenth part of that number."

"Still too many for three men," murmured Conseil.

The Canadian shook his head, passed his hand across his forehead, and
left the room without answering.

"Will you allow me to make one observation, sir?" said Conseil.  "Poor
Ned is longing for everything that he can not have.  His past life is
always present to him; everything that we are forbidden he regrets.
His head is full of old recollections.  And we must understand him.
What has he to do here?  Nothing; he is not learned like you, sir; and
has not the same taste for the beauties of the sea that we have.  He
would risk everything to be able to go once more into a tavern in his
own country."

Certainly the monotony on board must seem intolerable to the Canadian,
accustomed as he was to a life of liberty and activity.  Events were
rare which could rouse him to any show of spirit; but that day an event
did happen which recalled the bright days of the harpooner.  About
eleven in the morning, being on the surface of the ocean, the Nautilus
fell in with a troop of whales--an encounter which did not astonish me,
knowing that these creatures, hunted to death, had taken refuge in high
latitudes.

We were seated on the platform, with a quiet sea.  The month of October
in those latitudes gave us some lovely autumnal days.  It was the
Canadian--he could not be mistaken--who signalled a whale on the
eastern horizon.  Looking attentively, one might see its black back
rise and fall with the waves five miles from the Nautilus.

"Ah!" exclaimed Ned Land, "if I was on board a whaler, now such a
meeting would give me pleasure.  It is one of large size.  See with
what strength its blow-holes throw up columns of air an steam!
Confound it, why am I bound to these steel plates?"

"What, Ned," said I, "you have not forgotten your old ideas of fishing?"

"Can a whale-fisher ever forget his old trade, sir?  Can he ever tire
of the emotions caused by such a chase?"

"You have never fished in these seas, Ned?"

"Never, sir; in the northern only, and as much in Behring as in Davis
Straits."

"Then the southern whale is still unknown to you.  It is the Greenland
whale you have hunted up to this time, and that would not risk passing
through the warm waters of the equator.  Whales are localised,
according to their kinds, in certain seas which they never leave.  And
if one of these creatures went from Behring to Davis Straits, it must
be simply because there is a passage from one sea to the other, either
on the American or the Asiatic side."

"In that case, as I have never fished in these seas, I do not know the
kind of whale frequenting them!"

"I have told you, Ned."

"A greater reason for making their acquaintance," said Conseil.

"Look! look!" exclaimed the Canadian, "they approach: they aggravate
me; they know that I cannot get at them!"

Ned stamped his feet.  His hand trembled, as he grasped an imaginary
harpoon.

"Are these cetaceans as large as those of the northern seas?" asked he.

"Very nearly, Ned."

"Because I have seen large whales, sir, whales measuring a hundred
feet.  I have even been told that those of Hullamoch and Umgallick, of
the Aleutian Islands, are sometimes a hundred and fifty feet long."

"That seems to me exaggeration. These creatures are only
balaeaopterons, provided with dorsal fins; and, like the cachalots, are
generally much smaller than the Greenland whale."

"Ah!" exclaimed the Canadian, whose eyes had never left the ocean,
"they are coming nearer; they are in the same water as the Nautilus."

Then, returning to the conversation, he said:

"You spoke of the cachalot as a small creature.  I have heard of
gigantic ones.  They are intelligent cetacea.  It is said of some that
they cover themselves with seaweed and fucus, and then are taken for
islands.  People encamp upon them, and settle there; lights a fire----"

"And build houses," said Conseil.

"Yes, joker," said Ned Land.  "And one fine day the creature plunges,
carrying with it all the inhabitants to the bottom of the sea."

"Something like the travels of Sinbad the Sailor," I replied, laughing.

"Ah!" suddenly exclaimed Ned Land, "it is not one whale; there are
ten--there are twenty--it is a whole troop!  And I not able to do
anything! hands and feet tied!"

"But, friend Ned," said Conseil, "why do you not ask Captain Nemo's
permission to chase them?"

Conseil had not finished his sentence when Ned Land had lowered himself
through the panel to seek the Captain.  A few minutes afterwards the
two appeared together on the platform.

Captain Nemo watched the troop of cetacea playing on the waters about a
mile from the Nautilus.

"They are southern whales," said he; "there goes the fortune of a whole
fleet of whalers."

"Well, sir," asked the Canadian, "can I not chase them, if only to
remind me of my old trade of harpooner?"

"And to what purpose?" replied Captain Nemo; "only to destroy!  We have
nothing to do with the whale-oil on board."

"But, sir," continued the Canadian, "in the Red Sea you allowed us to
follow the dugong."

"Then it was to procure fresh meat for my crew.  Here it would be
killing for killing's sake.  I know that is a privilege reserved for
man, but I do not approve of such murderous pastime.  In destroying the
southern whale (like the Greenland whale, an inoffensive creature),
your traders do a culpable action, Master Land.  They have already
depopulated the whole of Baffin's Bay, and are annihilating a class of
useful animals.  Leave the unfortunate cetacea alone.  They have plenty
of natural enemies--cachalots, swordfish, and sawfish--without you
troubling them."

The Captain was right.  The barbarous and inconsiderate greed of these
fishermen will one day cause the disappearance of the last whale in the
ocean.  Ned Land whistled "Yankee-doodle" between his teeth, thrust his
hands into his pockets, and turned his back upon us.  But Captain Nemo
watched the troop of cetacea, and, addressing me, said:

"I was right in saying that whales had natural enemies enough, without
counting man.  These will have plenty to do before long.  Do you see,
M. Aronnax, about eight miles to leeward, those blackish moving points?"

"Yes, Captain," I replied.

"Those are cachalots--terrible animals, which I have met in troops of
two or three hundred.  As to those, they are cruel, mischievous
creatures; they would be right in exterminating them."

The Canadian turned quickly at the last words.

"Well, Captain," said he, "it is still time, in the interest of the
whales."

"It is useless to expose one's self, Professor.  The Nautilus will
disperse them.  It is armed with a steel spur as good as Master Land's
harpoon, I imagine."

The Canadian did not put himself out enough to shrug his shoulders.
Attack cetacea with blows of a spur!  Who had ever heard of such a
thing?

"Wait, M. Aronnax," said Captain Nemo.  "We will show you something you
have never yet seen.  We have no pity for these ferocious creatures.
They are nothing but mouth and teeth."

Mouth and teeth!  No one could better describe the macrocephalous
cachalot, which is sometimes more than seventy-five feet long.  Its
enormous head occupies one-third of its entire body.  Better armed than
the whale, whose upper jaw is furnished only with whalebone, it is
supplied with twenty-five large tusks, about eight inches long,
cylindrical and conical at the top, each weighing two pounds.  It is in
the upper part of this enormous head, in great cavities divided by
cartilages, that is to be found from six to eight hundred pounds of
that precious oil called spermaceti.  The cachalot is a disagreeable
creature, more tadpole than fish, according to Fredol's description.
It is badly formed, the whole of its left side being (if we may say
it), a "failure," and being only able to see with its right eye.  But
the formidable troop was nearing us.  They had seen the whales and were
preparing to attack them.  One could judge beforehand that the
cachalots would be victorious, not only because they were better built
for attack than their inoffensive adversaries, but also because they
could remain longer under water without coming to the surface.  There
was only just time to go to the help of the whales.  The Nautilus went
under water.  Conseil, Ned Land, and I took our places before the
window in the saloon, and Captain Nemo joined the pilot in his cage to
work his apparatus as an engine of destruction.  Soon I felt the
beatings of the screw quicken, and our speed increased.  The battle
between the cachalots and the whales had already begun when the
Nautilus arrived.  They did not at first show any fear at the sight of
this new monster joining in the conflict.  But they soon had to guard
against its blows.  What a battle!  The Nautilus was nothing but a
formidable harpoon, brandished by the hand of its Captain.  It hurled
itself against the fleshy mass, passing through from one part to the
other, leaving behind it two quivering halves of the animal.  It could
not feel the formidable blows from their tails upon its sides, nor the
shock which it produced itself, much more.  One cachalot killed, it ran
at the next, tacked on the spot that it might not miss its prey, going
forwards and backwards, answering to its helm, plunging when the
cetacean dived into the deep waters, coming up with it when it returned
to the surface, striking it front or sideways, cutting or tearing in
all directions and at any pace, piercing it with its terrible spur.
What carnage!  What a noise on the surface of the waves!  What sharp
hissing, and what snorting peculiar to these enraged animals!  In the
midst of these waters, generally so peaceful, their tails made perfect
billows.  For one hour this wholesale massacre continued, from which
the cachalots could not escape.  Several times ten or twelve united
tried to crush the Nautilus by their weight.  From the window we could
see their enormous mouths, studded with tusks, and their formidable
eyes.  Ned Land could not contain himself; he threatened and swore at
them.  We could feel them clinging to our vessel like dogs worrying a
wild boar in a copse.  But the Nautilus, working its screw, carried
them here and there, or to the upper levels of the ocean, without
caring for their enormous weight, nor the powerful strain on the
vessel.  At length the mass of cachalots broke up, the waves became
quiet, and I felt that we were rising to the surface.  The panel
opened, and we hurried on to the platform.  The sea was covered with
mutilated bodies.  A formidable explosion could not have divided and
torn this fleshy mass with more violence.  We were floating amid
gigantic bodies, bluish on the back and white underneath, covered with
enormous protuberances.  Some terrified cachalots were flying towards
the horizon.  The waves were dyed red for several miles, and the
Nautilus floated in a sea of blood:  Captain Nemo joined us.

"Well, Master Land?" said he.

"Well, sir," replied the Canadian, whose enthusiasm had somewhat
calmed; "it is a terrible spectacle, certainly.  But I am not a
butcher.  I am a hunter, and I call this a butchery."

"It is a massacre of mischievous creatures," replied the Captain; "and
the Nautilus is not a butcher's knife."

"I like my harpoon better," said the Canadian.

"Every one to his own," answered the Captain, looking fixedly at Ned
Land.

I feared he would commit some act of violence, which would end in sad
consequences.  But his anger was turned by the sight of a whale which
the Nautilus had just come up with.  The creature had not quite escaped
from the cachalot's teeth.  I recognised the southern whale by its flat
head, which is entirely black.  Anatomically, it is distinguished from
the white whale and the North Cape whale by the seven cervical
vertebrae, and it has two more ribs than its congeners.  The
unfortunate cetacean was lying on its side, riddled with holes from the
bites, and quite dead.  From its mutilated fin still hung a young whale
which it could not save from the massacre.  Its open mouth let the
water flow in and out, murmuring like the waves breaking on the shore.
Captain Nemo steered close to the corpse of the creature.  Two of his
men mounted its side, and I saw, not without surprise, that they were
drawing from its breasts all the milk which they contained, that is to
say, about two or three tons.  The Captain offered me a cup of the
milk, which was still warm.  I could not help showing my repugnance to
the drink; but he assured me that it was excellent, and not to be
distinguished from cow's milk.  I tasted it, and was of his opinion.
It was a useful reserve to us, for in the shape of salt butter or
cheese it would form an agreeable variety from our ordinary food.  From
that day I noticed with uneasiness that Ned Land's ill-will towards
Captain Nemo increased, and I resolved to watch the Canadian's gestures
closely.



CHAPTER XIII

THE ICEBERG

The Nautilus was steadily pursuing its southerly course, following the
fiftieth meridian with considerable speed.  Did he wish to reach the
pole?  I did not think so, for every attempt to reach that point had
hitherto failed.  Again, the season was far advanced, for in the
Antarctic regions the 13th of March corresponds with the 13th of
September of northern regions, which begin at the equinoctial season.
On the 14th of March I saw floating ice in latitude 55°, merely
pale bits of debris from twenty to twenty-five feet long, forming banks
over which the sea curled.  The Nautilus remained on the surface of the
ocean.  Ned Land, who had fished in the Arctic Seas, was familiar with
its icebergs; but Conseil and I admired them for the first time.  In
the atmosphere towards the southern horizon stretched a white dazzling
band.  English whalers have given it the name of "ice blink."  However
thick the clouds may be, it is always visible, and announces the
presence of an ice pack or bank.  Accordingly, larger blocks soon
appeared, whose brilliancy changed with the caprices of the fog.  Some
of these masses showed green veins, as if long undulating lines had
been traced with sulphate of copper; others resembled enormous
amethysts with the light shining through them.  Some reflected the
light of day upon a thousand crystal facets.  Others shaded with vivid
calcareous reflections resembled a perfect town of marble.  The more we
neared the south the more these floating islands increased both in
number and importance.

At 60° lat. every pass had disappeared.  But, seeking carefully,
Captain Nemo soon found a narrow opening, through which he boldly
slipped, knowing, however, that it would close behind him.  Thus,
guided by this clever hand, the Nautilus passed through all the ice
with a precision which quite charmed Conseil; icebergs or mountains,
ice-fields or smooth plains, seeming to have no limits, drift-ice or
floating ice-packs, plains broken up, called palchs when they are
circular, and streams when they are made up of long strips.  The
temperature was very low; the thermometer exposed to the air marked 2
deg. or 3° below zero, but we were warmly clad with fur, at the
expense of the sea-bear and seal.  The interior of the Nautilus, warmed
regularly by its electric apparatus, defied the most intense cold.
Besides, it would only have been necessary to go some yards beneath the
waves to find a more bearable temperature.  Two months earlier we
should have had perpetual daylight in these latitudes; but already we
had had three or four hours of night, and by and by there would be six
months of darkness in these circumpolar regions.  On the 15th of March
we were in the latitude of New Shetland and South Orkney.  The Captain
told me that formerly numerous tribes of seals inhabited them; but that
English and American whalers, in their rage for destruction, massacred
both old and young; thus, where there was once life and animation, they
had left silence and death.

About eight o'clock on the morning of the 16th of March the Nautilus,
following the fifty-fifth meridian, cut the Antarctic polar circle.
Ice surrounded us on all sides, and closed the horizon.  But Captain
Nemo went from one opening to another, still going higher.  I cannot
express my astonishment at the beauties of these new regions.  The ice
took most surprising forms.  Here the grouping formed an oriental town,
with innumerable mosques and minarets; there a fallen city thrown to
the earth, as it were, by some convulsion of nature.  The whole aspect
was constantly changed by the oblique rays of the sun, or lost in the
greyish fog amidst hurricanes of snow.  Detonations and falls were
heard on all sides, great overthrows of icebergs, which altered the
whole landscape like a diorama.  Often seeing no exit, I thought we
were definitely prisoners; but, instinct guiding him at the slightest
indication, Captain Nemo would discover a new pass.  He was never
mistaken when he saw the thin threads of bluish water trickling along
the ice-fields; and I had no doubt that he had already ventured into
the midst of these Antarctic seas before.  On the 16th of March,
however, the ice-fields absolutely blocked our road.  It was not the
iceberg itself, as yet, but vast fields cemented by the cold.  But this
obstacle could not stop Captain Nemo: he hurled himself against it with
frightful violence.  The Nautilus entered the brittle mass like a
wedge, and split it with frightful crackings.  It was the battering ram
of the ancients hurled by infinite strength.  The ice, thrown high in
the air, fell like hail around us.  By its own power of impulsion our
apparatus made a canal for itself; some times carried away by its own
impetus, it lodged on the ice-field, crushing it with its weight, and
sometimes buried beneath it, dividing it by a simple pitching movement,
producing large rents in it.  Violent gales assailed us at this time,
accompanied by thick fogs, through which, from one end of the platform
to the other, we could see nothing.  The wind blew sharply from all
parts of the compass, and the snow lay in such hard heaps that we had
to break it with blows of a pickaxe.  The temperature was always at 5
deg. below zero; every outward part of the Nautilus was covered with
ice.  A rigged vessel would have been entangled in the blocked up
gorges.  A vessel without sails, with electricity for its motive power,
and wanting no coal, could alone brave such high latitudes.  At length,
on the 18th of March, after many useless assaults, the Nautilus was
positively blocked.  It was no longer either streams, packs, or
ice-fields, but an interminable and immovable barrier, formed by
mountains soldered together.

"An iceberg!" said the Canadian to me.

I knew that to Ned Land, as well as to all other navigators who had
preceded us, this was an inevitable obstacle.  The sun appearing for an
instant at noon, Captain Nemo took an observation as near as possible,
which gave our situation at 51° 30' long. and 67° 39' of S.
lat.  We had advanced one degree more in this Antarctic region.  Of the
liquid surface of the sea there was no longer a glimpse.  Under the
spur of the Nautilus lay stretched a vast plain, entangled with
confused blocks.  Here and there sharp points and slender needles
rising to a height of 200 feet; further on a steep shore, hewn as it
were with an axe and clothed with greyish tints; huge mirrors,
reflecting a few rays of sunshine, half drowned in the fog.  And over
this desolate face of nature a stern silence reigned, scarcely broken
by the flapping of the wings of petrels and puffins.  Everything was
frozen--even the noise.  The Nautilus was then obliged to stop in its
adventurous course amid these fields of ice.  In spite of our efforts,
in spite of the powerful means employed to break up the ice, the
Nautilus remained immovable.  Generally, when we can proceed no
further, we have return still open to us; but here return was as
impossible as advance, for every pass had closed behind us; and for the
few moments when we were stationary, we were likely to be entirely
blocked, which did indeed happen about two o'clock in the afternoon,
the fresh ice forming around its sides with astonishing rapidity.  I
was obliged to admit that Captain Nemo was more than imprudent.  I was
on the platform at that moment.  The Captain had been observing our
situation for some time past, when he said to me:

"Well, sir, what do you think of this?"

"I think that we are caught, Captain."

"So, M. Aronnax, you really think that the Nautilus cannot disengage
itself?"

"With difficulty, Captain; for the season is already too far advanced
for you to reckon on the breaking of the ice."

"Ah! sir," said Captain Nemo, in an ironical tone, "you will always be
the same.  You see nothing but difficulties and obstacles.  I affirm
that not only can the Nautilus disengage itself, but also that it can
go further still."

"Further to the South?"  I asked, looking at the Captain.

"Yes, sir; it shall go to the pole."

"To the pole!"  I exclaimed, unable to repress a gesture of incredulity.

"Yes," replied the Captain, coldly, "to the Antarctic pole--to that
unknown point from whence springs every meridian of the globe.  You
know whether I can do as I please with the Nautilus!"

Yes, I knew that.  I knew that this man was bold, even to rashness.
But to conquer those obstacles which bristled round the South Pole,
rendering it more inaccessible than the North, which had not yet been
reached by the boldest navigators--was it not a mad enterprise, one
which only a maniac would have conceived?  It then came into my head to
ask Captain Nemo if he had ever discovered that pole which had never
yet been trodden by a human creature?

"No, sir," he replied; "but we will discover it together.  Where others
have failed, I will not fail.  I have never yet led my Nautilus so far
into southern seas; but, I repeat, it shall go further yet."

"I can well believe you, Captain," said I, in a slightly ironical tone.
"I believe you!  Let us go ahead!  There are no obstacles for us!  Let
us smash this iceberg!  Let us blow it up; and, if it resists, let us
give the Nautilus wings to fly over it!"

"Over it, sir!" said Captain Nemo, quietly; "no, not over it, but under
it!"

"Under it!"  I exclaimed, a sudden idea of the Captain's projects
flashing upon my mind.  I understood; the wonderful qualities of the
Nautilus were going to serve us in this superhuman enterprise.

"I see we are beginning to understand one another, sir," said the
Captain, half smiling.  "You begin to see the possibility--I should say
the success--of this attempt.  That which is impossible for an ordinary
vessel is easy to the Nautilus.  If a continent lies before the pole,
it must stop before the continent; but if, on the contrary, the pole is
washed by open sea, it will go even to the pole."

"Certainly," said I, carried away by the Captain's reasoning; "if the
surface of the sea is solidified by the ice, the lower depths are free
by the Providential law which has placed the maximum of density of the
waters of the ocean one degree higher than freezing-point; and, if I am
not mistaken, the portion of this iceberg which is above the water is
as one to four to that which is below."

"Very nearly, sir; for one foot of iceberg above the sea there are
three below it.  If these ice mountains are not more than 300 feet
above the surface, they are not more than 900 beneath.  And what are
900 feet to the Nautilus?"

"Nothing, sir."

"It could even seek at greater depths that uniform temperature of
sea-water, and there brave with impunity the thirty or forty degrees of
surface cold."

"Just so, sir--just so," I replied, getting animated.

"The only difficulty," continued Captain Nemo, "is that of remaining
several days without renewing our provision of air."

"Is that all?  The Nautilus has vast reservoirs; we can fill them, and
they will supply us with all the oxygen we want."

"Well thought of, M. Aronnax," replied the Captain, smiling.  "But, not
wishing you to accuse me of rashness, I will first give you all my
objections."

"Have you any more to make?"

"Only one.  It is possible, if the sea exists at the South Pole, that
it may be covered; and, consequently, we shall be unable to come to the
surface."

"Good, sir! but do you forget that the Nautilus is armed with a
powerful spur, and could we not send it diagonally against these fields
of ice, which would open at the shocks."

"Ah! sir, you are full of ideas to-day."

"Besides, Captain," I added, enthusiastically, "why should we not find
the sea open at the South Pole as well as at the North?  The frozen
poles of the earth do not coincide, either in the southern or in the
northern regions; and, until it is proved to the contrary, we may
suppose either a continent or an ocean free from ice at these two
points of the globe."

"I think so too, M. Aronnax," replied Captain Nemo.  "I only wish you
to observe that, after having made so many objections to my project,
you are now crushing me with arguments in its favour!"

The preparations for this audacious attempt now began.  The powerful
pumps of the Nautilus were working air into the reservoirs and storing
it at high pressure.  About four o'clock, Captain Nemo announced the
closing of the panels on the platform.  I threw one last look at the
massive iceberg which we were going to cross.  The weather was clear,
the atmosphere pure enough, the cold very great, being 12° below
zero; but, the wind having gone down, this temperature was not so
unbearable.  About ten men mounted the sides of the Nautilus, armed
with pickaxes to break the ice around the vessel, which was soon free.
The operation was quickly performed, for the fresh ice was still very
thin.  We all went below.  The usual reservoirs were filled with the
newly-liberated water, and the Nautilus soon descended.  I had taken my
place with Conseil in the saloon; through the open window we could see
the lower beds of the Southern Ocean.  The thermometer went up, the
needle of the compass deviated on the dial.  At about 900 feet, as
Captain Nemo had foreseen, we were floating beneath the undulating
bottom of the iceberg.  But the Nautilus went lower still--it went to
the depth of four hundred fathoms.  The temperature of the water at the
surface showed twelve degrees, it was now only ten; we had gained two.
I need not say the temperature of the Nautilus was raised by its
heating apparatus to a much higher degree; every manoeuvre was
accomplished with wonderful precision.

"We shall pass it, if you please, sir," said Conseil.

"I believe we shall," I said, in a tone of firm conviction.

In this open sea, the Nautilus had taken its course direct to the pole,
without leaving the fifty-second meridian.  From 67° 30' to 90
deg., twenty-two degrees and a half of latitude remained to travel;
that is, about five hundred leagues.  The Nautilus kept up a mean speed
of twenty-six miles an hour--the speed of an express train.  If that
was kept up, in forty hours we should reach the pole.

For a part of the night the novelty of the situation kept us at the
window.  The sea was lit with the electric lantern; but it was
deserted; fishes did not sojourn in these imprisoned waters; they only
found there a passage to take them from the Antarctic Ocean to the open
polar sea.  Our pace was rapid; we could feel it by the quivering of
the long steel body.  About two in the morning I took some hours'
repose, and Conseil did the same.  In crossing the waist I did not meet
Captain Nemo: I supposed him to be in the pilot's cage.  The next
morning, the 19th of March, I took my post once more in the saloon.
The electric log told me that the speed of the Nautilus had been
slackened.  It was then going towards the surface; but prudently
emptying its reservoirs very slowly.  My heart beat fast.  Were we
going to emerge and regain the open polar atmosphere?  No!  A shock
told me that the Nautilus had struck the bottom of the iceberg, still
very thick, judging from the deadened sound.  We had in deed "struck,"
to use a sea expression, but in an inverse sense, and at a thousand
feet deep.  This would give three thousand feet of ice above us; one
thousand being above the water-mark. The iceberg was then higher than
at its borders--not a very reassuring fact.  Several times that day the
Nautilus tried again, and every time it struck the wall which lay like
a ceiling above it.  Sometimes it met with but 900 yards, only 200 of
which rose above the surface.  It was twice the height it was when the
Nautilus had gone under the waves.  I carefully noted the different
depths, and thus obtained a submarine profile of the chain as it was
developed under the water.  That night no change had taken place in our
situation.  Still ice between four and five hundred yards in depth!  It
was evidently diminishing, but, still, what a thickness between us and
the surface of the ocean!  It was then eight.  According to the daily
custom on board the Nautilus, its air should have been renewed four
hours ago; but I did not suffer much, although Captain Nemo had not yet
made any demand upon his reserve of oxygen.  My sleep was painful that
night; hope and fear besieged me by turns: I rose several times.  The
groping of the Nautilus continued.  About three in the morning, I
noticed that the lower surface of the iceberg was only about fifty feet
deep.  One hundred and fifty feet now separated us from the surface of
the waters.  The iceberg was by degrees becoming an ice-field, the
mountain a plain.  My eyes never left the manometer.  We were still
rising diagonally to the surface, which sparkled under the electric
rays.  The iceberg was stretching both above and beneath into
lengthening slopes; mile after mile it was getting thinner.  At length,
at six in the morning of that memorable day, the 19th of March, the
door of the saloon opened, and Captain Nemo appeared.

"The sea is open!!" was all he said.



CHAPTER XIV

THE SOUTH POLE

I rushed on to the platform.  Yes! the open sea, with but a few
scattered pieces of ice and moving icebergs--a long stretch of sea; a
world of birds in the air, and myriads of fishes under those waters,
which varied from intense blue to olive green, according to the bottom.
The thermometer marked 3° C. above zero.  It was comparatively
spring, shut up as we were behind this iceberg, whose lengthened mass
was dimly seen on our northern horizon.

"Are we at the pole?"  I asked the Captain, with a beating heart.

"I do not know," he replied.  "At noon I will take our bearings."

"But will the sun show himself through this fog?" said I, looking at
the leaden sky.

"However little it shows, it will be enough," replied the Captain.

About ten miles south a solitary island rose to a height of one hundred
and four yards.  We made for it, but carefully, for the sea might be
strewn with banks.  One hour afterwards we had reached it, two hours
later we had made the round of it.  It measured four or five miles in
circumference.  A narrow canal separated it from a considerable stretch
of land, perhaps a continent, for we could not see its limits.  The
existence of this land seemed to give some colour to Maury's theory.
The ingenious American has remarked that, between the South Pole and
the sixtieth parallel, the sea is covered with floating ice of enormous
size, which is never met with in the North Atlantic.  From this fact he
has drawn the conclusion that the Antarctic Circle encloses
considerable continents, as icebergs cannot form in open sea, but only
on the coasts.  According to these calculations, the mass of ice
surrounding the southern pole forms a vast cap, the circumference of
which must be, at least, 2,500 miles.  But the Nautilus, for fear of
running aground, had stopped about three cable-lengths from a strand
over which reared a superb heap of rocks.  The boat was launched; the
Captain, two of his men, bearing instruments, Conseil, and myself were
in it.  It was ten in the morning.  I had not seen Ned Land.  Doubtless
the Canadian did not wish to admit the presence of the South Pole.  A
few strokes of the oar brought us to the sand, where we ran ashore.
Conseil was going to jump on to the land, when I held him back.

"Sir," said I to Captain Nemo, "to you belongs the honour of first
setting foot on this land."

"Yes, sir," said the Captain, "and if I do not hesitate to tread this
South Pole, it is because, up to this time, no human being has left a
trace there."

Saying this, he jumped lightly on to the sand.  His heart beat with
emotion.  He climbed a rock, sloping to a little promontory, and there,
with his arms crossed, mute and motionless, and with an eager look, he
seemed to take possession of these southern regions.  After five
minutes passed in this ecstasy, he turned to us.

"When you like, sir."

I landed, followed by Conseil, leaving the two men in the boat.  For a
long way the soil was composed of a reddish sandy stone, something like
crushed brick, scoriae, streams of lava, and pumice-stones. One could
not mistake its volcanic origin.  In some parts, slight curls of smoke
emitted a sulphurous smell, proving that the internal fires had lost
nothing of their expansive powers, though, having climbed a high
acclivity, I could see no volcano for a radius of several miles.  We
know that in those Antarctic countries, James Ross found two craters,
the Erebus and Terror, in full activity, on the 167th meridian,
latitude 77° 32'. The vegetation of this desolate continent seemed
to me much restricted.  Some lichens lay upon the black rocks; some
microscopic plants, rudimentary diatomas, a kind of cells placed
between two quartz shells; long purple and scarlet weed, supported on
little swimming bladders, which the breaking of the waves brought to
the shore.  These constituted the meagre flora of this region.  The
shore was strewn with molluscs, little mussels, and limpets.  I also
saw myriads of northern clios, one-and-a-quarter inches long, of which
a whale would swallow a whole world at a mouthful; and some perfect
sea-butterflies, animating the waters on the skirts of the shore.

There appeared on the high bottoms some coral shrubs, of the kind
which, according to James Ross, live in the Antarctic seas to the depth
of more than 1,000 yards.  Then there were little kingfishers and
starfish studding the soil.  But where life abounded most was in the
air.  There thousands of birds fluttered and flew of all kinds,
deafening us with their cries; others crowded the rock, looking at us
as we passed by without fear, and pressing familiarly close by our
feet.  There were penguins, so agile in the water, heavy and awkward as
they are on the ground; they were uttering harsh cries, a large
assembly, sober in gesture, but extravagant in clamour.  Albatrosses
passed in the air, the expanse of their wings being at least four yards
and a half, and justly called the vultures of the ocean; some gigantic
petrels, and some damiers, a kind of small duck, the underpart of whose
body is black and white; then there were a whole series of petrels,
some whitish, with brown-bordered wings, others blue, peculiar to the
Antarctic seas, and so oily, as I told Conseil, that the inhabitants of
the Ferroe Islands had nothing to do before lighting them but to put a
wick in.

"A little more," said Conseil, "and they would be perfect lamps!  After
that, we cannot expect Nature to have previously furnished them with
wicks!"

About half a mile farther on the soil was riddled with ruffs' nests, a
sort of laying-ground, out of which many birds were issuing.  Captain
Nemo had some hundreds hunted.  They uttered a cry like the braying of
an ass, were about the size of a goose, slate-colour on the body, white
beneath, with a yellow line round their throats; they allowed
themselves to be killed with a stone, never trying to escape.  But the
fog did not lift, and at eleven the sun had not yet shown itself.  Its
absence made me uneasy.  Without it no observations were possible.
How, then, could we decide whether we had reached the pole?  When I
rejoined Captain Nemo, I found him leaning on a piece of rock, silently
watching the sky.  He seemed impatient and vexed.  But what was to be
done?  This rash and powerful man could not command the sun as he did
the sea.  Noon arrived without the orb of day showing itself for an
instant.  We could not even tell its position behind the curtain of
fog; and soon the fog turned to snow.

"Till to-morrow," said the Captain, quietly, and we returned to the
Nautilus amid these atmospheric disturbances.

The tempest of snow continued till the next day.  It was impossible to
remain on the platform.  From the saloon, where I was taking notes of
incidents happening during this excursion to the polar continent, I
could hear the cries of petrels and albatrosses sporting in the midst
of this violent storm.  The Nautilus did not remain motionless, but
skirted the coast, advancing ten miles more to the south in the
half-light left by the sun as it skirted the edge of the horizon.  The
next day, the 20th of March, the snow had ceased.  The cold was a
little greater, the thermometer showing 2° below zero.  The fog
was rising, and I hoped that that day our observations might be taken.
Captain Nemo not having yet appeared, the boat took Conseil and myself
to land.  The soil was still of the same volcanic nature; everywhere
were traces of lava, scoriae, and basalt; but the crater which had
vomited them I could not see.  Here, as lower down, this continent was
alive with myriads of birds.  But their rule was now divided with large
troops of sea-mammals, looking at us with their soft eyes.  There were
several kinds of seals, some stretched on the earth, some on flakes of
ice, many going in and out of the sea.  They did not flee at our
approach, never having had anything to do with man; and I reckoned that
there were provisions there for hundreds of vessels.

"Sir," said Conseil, "will you tell me the names of these creatures?"

"They are seals and morses."

It was now eight in the morning.  Four hours remained to us before the
sun could be observed with advantage.  I directed our steps towards a
vast bay cut in the steep granite shore.  There, I can aver that earth
and ice were lost to sight by the numbers of sea-mammals covering them,
and I involuntarily sought for old Proteus, the mythological shepherd
who watched these immense flocks of Neptune.  There were more seals
than anything else, forming distinct groups, male and female, the
father watching over his family, the mother suckling her little ones,
some already strong enough to go a few steps.  When they wished to
change their place, they took little jumps, made by the contraction of
their bodies, and helped awkwardly enough by their imperfect fin,
which, as with the lamantin, their cousins, forms a perfect forearm.  I
should say that, in the water, which is their element--the spine of
these creatures is flexible; with smooth and close skin and webbed
feet--they swim admirably.  In resting on the earth they take the most
graceful attitudes.  Thus the ancients, observing their soft and
expressive looks, which cannot be surpassed by the most beautiful look
a woman can give, their clear voluptuous eyes, their charming
positions, and the poetry of their manners, metamorphosed them, the
male into a triton and the female into a mermaid.  I made Conseil
notice the considerable development of the lobes of the brain in these
interesting cetaceans.  No mammal, except man, has such a quantity of
brain matter; they are also capable of receiving a certain amount of
education, are easily domesticated, and I think, with other
naturalists, that if properly taught they would be of great service as
fishing-dogs.  The greater part of them slept on the rocks or on the
sand.  Amongst these seals, properly so called, which have no external
ears (in which they differ from the otter, whose ears are prominent), I
noticed several varieties of seals about three yards long, with a white
coat, bulldog heads, armed with teeth in both jaws, four incisors at
the top and four at the bottom, and two large canine teeth in the shape
of a fleur-de-lis. Amongst them glided sea-elephants, a kind of seal,
with short, flexible trunks.  The giants of this species measured
twenty feet round and ten yards and a half in length; but they did not
move as we approached.

"These creatures are not dangerous?" asked Conseil.

"No; not unless you attack them.  When they have to defend their young
their rage is terrible, and it is not uncommon for them to break the
fishing-boats to pieces."

"They are quite right," said Conseil.

"I do not say they are not."

Two miles farther on we were stopped by the promontory which shelters
the bay from the southerly winds.  Beyond it we heard loud bellowings
such as a troop of ruminants would produce.

"Good!" said Conseil; "a concert of bulls!"

"No; a concert of morses."

"They are fighting!"

"They are either fighting or playing."

We now began to climb the blackish rocks, amid unforeseen stumbles, and
over stones which the ice made slippery.  More than once I rolled over
at the expense of my loins.  Conseil, more prudent or more steady, did
not stumble, and helped me up, saying:

"If, sir, you would have the kindness to take wider steps, you would
preserve your equilibrium better."

Arrived at the upper ridge of the promontory, I saw a vast white plain
covered with morses.  They were playing amongst themselves, and what we
heard were bellowings of pleasure, not of anger.

As I passed these curious animals I could examine them leisurely, for
they did not move.  Their skins were thick and rugged, of a yellowish
tint, approaching to red; their hair was short and scant.  Some of them
were four yards and a quarter long.  Quieter and less timid than their
cousins of the north, they did not, like them, place sentinels round
the outskirts of their encampment.  After examining this city of
morses, I began to think of returning.  It was eleven o'clock, and, if
Captain Nemo found the conditions favourable for observations, I wished
to be present at the operation.  We followed a narrow pathway running
along the summit of the steep shore.  At half-past eleven we had
reached the place where we landed.  The boat had run aground, bringing
the Captain.  I saw him standing on a block of basalt, his instruments
near him, his eyes fixed on the northern horizon, near which the sun
was then describing a lengthened curve.  I took my place beside him,
and waited without speaking.  Noon arrived, and, as before, the sun did
not appear.  It was a fatality.  Observations were still wanting.  If
not accomplished to-morrow, we must give up all idea of taking any.  We
were indeed exactly at the 20th of March.  To-morrow, the 21st, would
be the equinox; the sun would disappear behind the horizon for six
months, and with its disappearance the long polar night would begin.
Since the September equinox it had emerged from the northern horizon,
rising by lengthened spirals up to the 21st of December.  At this
period, the summer solstice of the northern regions, it had begun to
descend; and to-morrow was to shed its last rays upon them.  I
communicated my fears and observations to Captain Nemo.

"You are right, M. Aronnax," said he; "if to-morrow I cannot take the
altitude of the sun, I shall not be able to do it for six months.  But
precisely because chance has led me into these seas on the 21st of
March, my bearings will be easy to take, if at twelve we can see the
sun."

"Why, Captain?"

"Because then the orb of day described such lengthened curves that it
is difficult to measure exactly its height above the horizon, and grave
errors may be made with instruments."

"What will you do then?"

"I shall only use my chronometer," replied Captain Nemo.  "If
to-morrow, the 21st of March, the disc of the sun, allowing for
refraction, is exactly cut by the northern horizon, it will show that I
am at the South Pole."

"Just so," said I. "But this statement is not mathematically correct,
because the equinox does not necessarily begin at noon."

"Very likely, sir; but the error will not be a hundred yards and we do
not want more.  Till to-morrow, then!"

Captain Nemo returned on board.  Conseil and I remained to survey the
shore, observing and studying until five o'clock. Then I went to bed,
not, however, without invoking, like the Indian, the favour of the
radiant orb.  The next day, the 21st of March, at five in the morning,
I mounted the platform.  I found Captain Nemo there.

"The weather is lightening a little," said he.  "I have some hope.
After breakfast we will go on shore and choose a post for observation."

That point settled, I sought Ned Land.  I wanted to take him with me.
But the obstinate Canadian refused, and I saw that his taciturnity and
his bad humour grew day by day.  After all, I was not sorry for his
obstinacy under the circumstances.  Indeed, there were too many seals
on shore, and we ought not to lay such temptation in this unreflecting
fisherman's way.  Breakfast over, we went on shore.  The Nautilus had
gone some miles further up in the night.  It was a whole league from
the coast, above which reared a sharp peak about five hundred yards
high.  The boat took with me Captain Nemo, two men of the crew, and the
instruments, which consisted of a chronometer, a telescope, and a
barometer.  While crossing, I saw numerous whales belonging to the
three kinds peculiar to the southern seas; the whale, or the English
"right whale," which has no dorsal fin; the "humpback," with reeved
chest and large, whitish fins, which, in spite of its name, do not form
wings; and the fin-back, of a yellowish brown, the liveliest of all the
cetacea.  This powerful creature is heard a long way off when he throws
to a great height columns of air and vapour, which look like whirlwinds
of smoke.  These different mammals were disporting themselves in troops
in the quiet waters; and I could see that this basin of the Antarctic
Pole serves as a place of refuge to the cetacea too closely tracked by
the hunters.  I also noticed large medusae floating between the reeds.

At nine we landed; the sky was brightening, the clouds were flying to
the south, and the fog seemed to be leaving the cold surface of the
waters.  Captain Nemo went towards the peak, which he doubtless meant
to be his observatory.  It was a painful ascent over the sharp lava and
the pumice-stones, in an atmosphere often impregnated with a sulphurous
smell from the smoking cracks.  For a man unaccustomed to walk on land,
the Captain climbed the steep slopes with an agility I never saw
equalled and which a hunter would have envied.  We were two hours
getting to the summit of this peak, which was half porphyry and half
basalt.  From thence we looked upon a vast sea which, towards the
north, distinctly traced its boundary line upon the sky.  At our feet
lay fields of dazzling whiteness.  Over our heads a pale azure, free
from fog.  To the north the disc of the sun seemed like a ball of fire,
already horned by the cutting of the horizon.  From the bosom of the
water rose sheaves of liquid jets by hundreds.  In the distance lay the
Nautilus like a cetacean asleep on the water.  Behind us, to the south
and east, an immense country and a chaotic heap of rocks and ice, the
limits of which were not visible.  On arriving at the summit Captain
Nemo carefully took the mean height of the barometer, for he would have
to consider that in taking his observations.  At a quarter to twelve
the sun, then seen only by refraction, looked like a golden disc
shedding its last rays upon this deserted continent and seas which
never man had yet ploughed.  Captain Nemo, furnished with a lenticular
glass which, by means of a mirror, corrected the refraction, watched
the orb sinking below the horizon by degrees, following a lengthened
diagonal.  I held the chronometer.  My heart beat fast.  If the
disappearance of the half-disc of the sun coincided with twelve o'clock
on the chronometer, we were at the pole itself.

"Twelve!"  I exclaimed.

"The South Pole!" replied Captain Nemo, in a grave voice, handing me
the glass, which showed the orb cut in exactly equal parts by the
horizon.

I looked at the last rays crowning the peak, and the shadows mounting
by degrees up its slopes.  At that moment Captain Nemo, resting with
his hand on my shoulder, said:

"I, Captain Nemo, on this 21st day of March, 1868, have reached the
South Pole on the ninetieth degree; and I take possession of this part
of the globe, equal to one-sixth of the known continents."

"In whose name, Captain?"

"In my own, sir!"

Saying which, Captain Nemo unfurled a black banner, bearing an "N" in
gold quartered on its bunting.  Then, turning towards the orb of day,
whose last rays lapped the horizon of the sea, he exclaimed:

"Adieu, sun!  Disappear, thou radiant orb! rest beneath this open sea,
and let a night of six months spread its shadows over my new domains!"



CHAPTER XV

ACCIDENT OR INCIDENT?

The next day, the 22nd of March, at six in the morning, preparations
for departure were begun.  The last gleams of twilight were melting
into night.  The cold was great, the constellations shone with
wonderful intensity.  In the zenith glittered that wondrous Southern
Cross--the polar bear of Antarctic regions.  The thermometer showed 120
below zero, and when the wind freshened it was most biting.  Flakes of
ice increased on the open water.  The sea seemed everywhere alike.
Numerous blackish patches spread on the surface, showing the formation
of fresh ice.  Evidently the southern basin, frozen during the six
winter months, was absolutely inaccessible.  What became of the whales
in that time?  Doubtless they went beneath the icebergs, seeking more
practicable seas.  As to the seals and morses, accustomed to live in a
hard climate, they remained on these icy shores.  These creatures have
the instinct to break holes in the ice-field and to keep them open.  To
these holes they come for breath; when the birds, driven away by the
cold, have emigrated to the north, these sea mammals remain sole
masters of the polar continent.  But the reservoirs were filling with
water, and the Nautilus was slowly descending.  At 1,000 feet deep it
stopped; its screw beat the waves, and it advanced straight towards the
north at a speed of fifteen miles an hour.  Towards night it was
already floating under the immense body of the iceberg.  At three in
the morning I was awakened by a violent shock.  I sat up in my bed and
listened in the darkness, when I was thrown into the middle of the
room.  The Nautilus, after having struck, had rebounded violently.  I
groped along the partition, and by the staircase to the saloon, which
was lit by the luminous ceiling.  The furniture was upset.  Fortunately
the windows were firmly set, and had held fast.  The pictures on the
starboard side, from being no longer vertical, were clinging to the
paper, whilst those of the port side were hanging at least a foot from
the wall.  The Nautilus was lying on its starboard side perfectly
motionless.  I heard footsteps, and a confusion of voices; but Captain
Nemo did not appear.  As I was leaving the saloon, Ned Land and Conseil
entered.

"What is the matter?" said I, at once.

"I came to ask you, sir," replied Conseil.

"Confound it!" exclaimed the Canadian, "I know well enough!  The
Nautilus has struck; and, judging by the way she lies, I do not think
she will right herself as she did the first time in Torres Straits."

"But," I asked, "has she at least come to the surface of the sea?"

"We do not know," said Conseil.

"It is easy to decide," I answered.  I consulted the manometer.  To my
great surprise, it showed a depth of more than 180 fathoms.  "What does
that mean?"  I exclaimed.

"We must ask Captain Nemo," said Conseil.

"But where shall we find him?" said Ned Land.

"Follow me," said I, to my companions.

We left the saloon.  There was no one in the library.  At the centre
staircase, by the berths of the ship's crew, there was no one.  I
thought that Captain Nemo must be in the pilot's cage.  It was best to
wait.  We all returned to the saloon.  For twenty minutes we remained
thus, trying to hear the slightest noise which might be made on board
the Nautilus, when Captain Nemo entered.  He seemed not to see us; his
face, generally so impassive, showed signs of uneasiness.  He watched
the compass silently, then the manometer; and, going to the
planisphere, placed his finger on a spot representing the southern
seas.  I would not interrupt him; but, some minutes later, when he
turned towards me, I said, using one of his own expressions in the
Torres Straits:

"An incident, Captain?"

"No, sir; an accident this time."

"Serious?"

"Perhaps."

"Is the danger immediate?"

"No."

"The Nautilus has stranded?"

"Yes."

"And this has happened--how?"

"From a caprice of nature, not from the ignorance of man.  Not a
mistake has been made in the working.  But we cannot prevent
equilibrium from producing its effects.  We may brave human laws, but
we cannot resist natural ones."

Captain Nemo had chosen a strange moment for uttering this
philosophical reflection.  On the whole, his answer helped me little.

"May I ask, sir, the cause of this accident?"

"An enormous block of ice, a whole mountain, has turned over," he
replied.  "When icebergs are undermined at their base by warmer water
or reiterated shocks their centre of gravity rises, and the whole thing
turns over.  This is what has happened; one of these blocks, as it
fell, struck the Nautilus, then, gliding under its hull, raised it with
irresistible force, bringing it into beds which are not so thick, where
it is lying on its side."

"But can we not get the Nautilus off by emptying its reservoirs, that
it might regain its equilibrium?"

"That, sir, is being done at this moment.  You can hear the pump
working.  Look at the needle of the manometer; it shows that the
Nautilus is rising, but the block of ice is floating with it; and,
until some obstacle stops its ascending motion, our position cannot be
altered."

Indeed, the Nautilus still held the same position to starboard;
doubtless it would right itself when the block stopped.  But at this
moment who knows if we may not be frightfully crushed between the two
glassy surfaces?  I reflected on all the consequences of our position.
Captain Nemo never took his eyes off the manometer.  Since the fall of
the iceberg, the Nautilus had risen about a hundred and fifty feet, but
it still made the same angle with the perpendicular.  Suddenly a slight
movement was felt in the hold.  Evidently it was righting a little.
Things hanging in the saloon were sensibly returning to their normal
position.  The partitions were nearing the upright.  No one spoke.
With beating hearts we watched and felt the straightening.  The boards
became horizontal under our feet.  Ten minutes passed.

"At last we have righted!"  I exclaimed.

"Yes," said Captain Nemo, going to the door of the saloon.

"But are we floating?"  I asked.

"Certainly," he replied; "since the reservoirs are not empty; and, when
empty, the Nautilus must rise to the surface of the sea."

We were in open sea; but at a distance of about ten yards, on either
side of the Nautilus, rose a dazzling wall of ice.  Above and beneath
the same wall.  Above, because the lower surface of the iceberg
stretched over us like an immense ceiling.  Beneath, because the
overturned block, having slid by degrees, had found a resting-place on
the lateral walls, which kept it in that position.  The Nautilus was
really imprisoned in a perfect tunnel of ice more than twenty yards in
breadth, filled with quiet water.  It was easy to get out of it by
going either forward or backward, and then make a free passage under
the iceberg, some hundreds of yards deeper.  The luminous ceiling had
been extinguished, but the saloon was still resplendent with intense
light.  It was the powerful reflection from the glass partition sent
violently back to the sheets of the lantern.  I cannot describe the
effect of the voltaic rays upon the great blocks so capriciously cut;
upon every angle, every ridge, every facet was thrown a different
light, according to the nature of the veins running through the ice; a
dazzling mine of gems, particularly of sapphires, their blue rays
crossing with the green of the emerald.  Here and there were opal
shades of wonderful softness, running through bright spots like
diamonds of fire, the brilliancy of which the eye could not bear.  The
power of the lantern seemed increased a hundredfold, like a lamp
through the lenticular plates of a first-class lighthouse.

"How beautiful! how beautiful!" cried Conseil.

"Yes," I said, "it is a wonderful sight.  Is it not, Ned?"

"Yes, confound it!  Yes," answered Ned Land, "it is superb!  I am mad
at being obliged to admit it.  No one has ever seen anything like it;
but the sight may cost us dear.  And, if I must say all, I think we are
seeing here things which God never intended man to see."

Ned was right, it was too beautiful.  Suddenly a cry from Conseil made
me turn.

"What is it?"  I asked.

"Shut your eyes, sir!  Do not look, sir!"  Saying which, Conseil
clapped his hands over his eyes.

"But what is the matter, my boy?"

"I am dazzled, blinded."

My eyes turned involuntarily towards the glass, but I could not stand
the fire which seemed to devour them.  I understood what had happened.
The Nautilus had put on full speed.  All the quiet lustre of the
ice-walls was at once changed into flashes of lightning.  The fire from
these myriads of diamonds was blinding.  It required some time to calm
our troubled looks.  At last the hands were taken down.

"Faith, I should never have believed it," said Conseil.

It was then five in the morning; and at that moment a shock was felt at
the bows of the Nautilus.  I knew that its spur had struck a block of
ice.  It must have been a false manoeuvre, for this submarine tunnel,
obstructed by blocks, was not very easy navigation.  I thought that
Captain Nemo, by changing his course, would either turn these obstacles
or else follow the windings of the tunnel.  In any case, the road
before us could not be entirely blocked.  But, contrary to my
expectations, the Nautilus took a decided retrograde motion.

"We are going backwards?" said Conseil.

"Yes," I replied.  "This end of the tunnel can have no egress."

"And then?"

"Then," said I, "the working is easy.  We must go back again, and go
out at the southern opening.  That is all."

In speaking thus, I wished to appear more confident than I really was.
But the retrograde motion of the Nautilus was increasing; and,
reversing the screw, it carried us at great speed.

"It will be a hindrance," said Ned.

"What does it matter, some hours more or less, provided we get out at
last?"

"Yes," repeated Ned Land, "provided we do get out at last!"

For a short time I walked from the saloon to the library.  My
companions were silent.  I soon threw myself on an ottoman, and took a
book, which my eyes overran mechanically.  A quarter of an hour after,
Conseil, approaching me, said, "Is what you are reading very
interesting, sir?"

"Very interesting!"  I replied.

"I should think so, sir.  It is your own book you are reading."

"My book?"

And indeed I was holding in my hand the work on the Great Submarine
Depths.  I did not even dream of it.  I closed the book and returned to
my walk.  Ned and Conseil rose to go.

"Stay here, my friends," said I, detaining them.  "Let us remain
together until we are out of this block."

"As you please, sir," Conseil replied.

Some hours passed.  I often looked at the instruments hanging from the
partition.  The manometer showed that the Nautilus kept at a constant
depth of more than three hundred yards; the compass still pointed to
south; the log indicated a speed of twenty miles an hour, which, in
such a cramped space, was very great.  But Captain Nemo knew that he
could not hasten too much, and that minutes were worth ages to us.  At
twenty-five minutes past eight a second shock took place, this time
from behind.  I turned pale.  My companions were close by my side.  I
seized Conseil's hand.  Our looks expressed our feelings better than
words.  At this moment the Captain entered the saloon.  I went up to
him.

"Our course is barred southward?"  I asked.

"Yes, sir.  The iceberg has shifted and closed every outlet."

"We are blocked up then?"

"Yes."



CHAPTER XVI

WANT OF AIR

Thus around the Nautilus, above and below, was an impenetrable wall of
ice.  We were prisoners to the iceberg.  I watched the Captain.  His
countenance had resumed its habitual imperturbability.

"Gentlemen," he said calmly, "there are two ways of dying in the
circumstances in which we are placed."  (This puzzling person had the
air of a mathematical professor lecturing to his pupils.) "The first is
to be crushed; the second is to die of suffocation.  I do not speak of
the possibility of dying of hunger, for the supply of provisions in the
Nautilus will certainly last longer than we shall.  Let us, then,
calculate our chances."

"As to suffocation, Captain," I replied, "that is not to be feared,
because our reservoirs are full."

"Just so; but they will only yield two days' supply of air.  Now, for
thirty-six hours we have been hidden under the water, and already the
heavy atmosphere of the Nautilus requires renewal.  In forty-eight
hours our reserve will be exhausted."

"Well, Captain, can we be delivered before forty-eight hours?"

"We will attempt it, at least, by piercing the wall that surrounds us."

"On which side?"

"Sound will tell us.  I am going to run the Nautilus aground on the
lower bank, and my men will attack the iceberg on the side that is
least thick."

Captain Nemo went out.  Soon I discovered by a hissing noise that the
water was entering the reservoirs.  The Nautilus sank slowly, and
rested on the ice at a depth of 350 yards, the depth at which the lower
bank was immersed.

"My friends," I said, "our situation is serious, but I rely on your
courage and energy."

"Sir," replied the Canadian, "I am ready to do anything for the general
safety."

"Good!  Ned," and I held out my hand to the Canadian.

"I will add," he continued, "that, being as handy with the pickaxe as
with the harpoon, if I can be useful to the Captain, he can command my
services."

"He will not refuse your help.  Come, Ned!"

I led him to the room where the crew of the Nautilus were putting on
their cork-jackets. I told the Captain of Ned's proposal, which he
accepted.  The Canadian put on his sea-costume, and was ready as soon
as his companions.  When Ned was dressed, I re-entered the
drawing-room, where the panes of glass were open, and, posted near
Conseil, I examined the ambient beds that supported the Nautilus.  Some
instants after, we saw a dozen of the crew set foot on the bank of ice,
and among them Ned Land, easily known by his stature.  Captain Nemo was
with them.  Before proceeding to dig the walls, he took the soundings,
to be sure of working in the right direction.  Long sounding lines were
sunk in the side walls, but after fifteen yards they were again stopped
by the thick wall.  It was useless to attack it on the ceiling-like
surface, since the iceberg itself measured more than 400 yards in
height.  Captain Nemo then sounded the lower surface.  There ten yards
of wall separated us from the water, so great was the thickness of the
ice-field. It was necessary, therefore, to cut from it a piece equal in
extent to the waterline of the Nautilus.  There were about 6,000 cubic
yards to detach, so as to dig a hole by which we could descend to the
ice-field. The work had begun immediately and carried on with
indefatigable energy.  Instead of digging round the Nautilus which
would have involved greater difficulty, Captain Nemo had an immense
trench made at eight yards from the port-quarter. Then the men set to
work simultaneously with their screws on several points of its
circumference.  Presently the pickaxe attacked this compact matter
vigorously, and large blocks were detached from the mass.  By a curious
effect of specific gravity, these blocks, lighter than water, fled, so
to speak, to the vault of the tunnel, that increased in thickness at
the top in proportion as it diminished at the base.  But that mattered
little, so long as the lower part grew thinner.  After two hours' hard
work, Ned Land came in exhausted.  He and his comrades were replaced by
new workers, whom Conseil and I joined.  The second lieutenant of the
Nautilus superintended us.  The water seemed singularly cold, but I
soon got warm handling the pickaxe.  My movements were free enough,
although they were made under a pressure of thirty atmospheres.  When I
re-entered, after working two hours, to take some food and rest, I
found a perceptible difference between the pure fluid with which the
Rouquayrol engine supplied me and the atmosphere of the Nautilus,
already charged with carbonic acid.  The air had not been renewed for
forty-eight hours, and its vivifying qualities were considerably
enfeebled.  However, after a lapse of twelve hours, we had only raised
a block of ice one yard thick, on the marked surface, which was about
600 cubic yards!  Reckoning that it took twelve hours to accomplish
this much it would take five nights and four days to bring this
enterprise to a satisfactory conclusion.  Five nights and four days!
And we have only air enough for two days in the reservoirs!  "Without
taking into account," said Ned, "that, even if we get out of this
infernal prison, we shall also be imprisoned under the iceberg, shut
out from all possible communication with the atmosphere." True enough!
Who could then foresee the minimum of time necessary for our
deliverance?  We might be suffocated before the Nautilus could regain
the surface of the waves?  Was it destined to perish in this ice-tomb,
with all those it enclosed?  The situation was terrible.  But everyone
had looked the danger in the face, and each was determined to do his
duty to the last.

As I expected, during the night a new block a yard square was carried
away, and still further sank the immense hollow.  But in the morning
when, dressed in my cork-jacket, I traversed the slushy mass at a
temperature of six or seven degrees below zero, I remarked that the
side walls were gradually closing in.  The beds of water farthest from
the trench, that were not warmed by the men's work, showed a tendency
to solidification.  In presence of this new and imminent danger, what
would become of our chances of safety, and how hinder the
solidification of this liquid medium, that would burst the partitions
of the Nautilus like glass?

I did not tell my companions of this new danger.  What was the good of
damping the energy they displayed in the painful work of escape?  But
when I went on board again, I told Captain Nemo of this grave
complication.

"I know it," he said, in that calm tone which could counteract the most
terrible apprehensions.  "It is one danger more; but I see no way of
escaping it; the only chance of safety is to go quicker than
solidification.  We must be beforehand with it, that is all."

On this day for several hours I used my pickaxe vigorously.  The work
kept me up.  Besides, to work was to quit the Nautilus, and breathe
directly the pure air drawn from the reservoirs, and supplied by our
apparatus, and to quit the impoverished and vitiated atmosphere.
Towards evening the trench was dug one yard deeper.  When I returned on
board, I was nearly suffocated by the carbonic acid with which the air
was filled--ah! if we had only the chemical means to drive away this
deleterious gas.  We had plenty of oxygen; all this water contained a
considerable quantity, and by dissolving it with our powerful piles, it
would restore the vivifying fluid.  I had thought well over it; but of
what good was that, since the carbonic acid produced by our respiration
had invaded every part of the vessel?  To absorb it, it was necessary
to fill some jars with caustic potash, and to shake them incessantly.
Now this substance was wanting on board, and nothing could replace it.
On that evening, Captain Nemo ought to open the taps of his reservoirs,
and let some pure air into the interior of the Nautilus; without this
precaution we could not get rid of the sense of suffocation.  The next
day, March 26th, I resumed my miner's work in beginning the fifth yard.
The side walls and the lower surface of the iceberg thickened visibly.
It was evident that they would meet before the Nautilus was able to
disengage itself.  Despair seized me for an instant; my pickaxe nearly
fell from my hands.  What was the good of digging if I must be
suffocated, crushed by the water that was turning into stone?--a
punishment that the ferocity of the savages even would not have
invented!  Just then Captain Nemo passed near me.  I touched his hand
and showed him the walls of our prison.  The wall to port had advanced
to at least four yards from the hull of the Nautilus.  The Captain
understood me, and signed me to follow him.  We went on board.  I took
off my cork-jacket and accompanied him into the drawing-room.

"M. Aronnax, we must attempt some desperate means, or we shall be
sealed up in this solidified water as in cement."

"Yes; but what is to be done?"

"Ah! if my Nautilus were strong enough to bear this pressure without
being crushed!"

"Well?"  I asked, not catching the Captain's idea.

"Do you not understand," he replied, "that this congelation of water
will help us?  Do you not see that by its solidification, it would
burst through this field of ice that imprisons us, as, when it freezes,
it bursts the hardest stones?  Do you not perceive that it would be an
agent of safety instead of destruction?"

"Yes, Captain, perhaps.  But, whatever resistance to crushing the
Nautilus possesses, it could not support this terrible pressure, and
would be flattened like an iron plate."

"I know it, sir.  Therefore we must not reckon on the aid of nature,
but on our own exertions.  We must stop this solidification.  Not only
will the side walls be pressed together; but there is not ten feet of
water before or behind the Nautilus.  The congelation gains on us on
all sides."

"How long will the air in the reservoirs last for us to breathe on
board?"

The Captain looked in my face.  "After to-morrow they will be empty!"

A cold sweat came over me.  However, ought I to have been astonished at
the answer?  On March 22, the Nautilus was in the open polar seas.  We
were at 26°. For five days we had lived on the reserve on board.
And what was left of the respirable air must be kept for the workers.
Even now, as I write, my recollection is still so vivid that an
involuntary terror seizes me and my lungs seem to be without air.
Meanwhile, Captain Nemo reflected silently, and evidently an idea had
struck him; but he seemed to reject it.  At last, these words escaped
his lips:

"Boiling water!" he muttered.

"Boiling water?"  I cried.

"Yes, sir.  We are enclosed in a space that is relatively confined.
Would not jets of boiling water, constantly injected by the pumps,
raise the temperature in this part and stay the congelation?"

"Let us try it," I said resolutely.

"Let us try it, Professor."

The thermometer then stood at 7° outside.  Captain Nemo took me to
the galleys, where the vast distillatory machines stood that furnished
the drinkable water by evaporation.  They filled these with water, and
all the electric heat from the piles was thrown through the worms
bathed in the liquid.  In a few minutes this water reached 100°. It
was directed towards the pumps, while fresh water replaced it in
proportion.  The heat developed by the troughs was such that cold
water, drawn up from the sea after only having gone through the
machines, came boiling into the body of the pump.  The injection was
begun, and three hours after the thermometer marked 6° below zero
outside.  One degree was gained.  Two hours later the thermometer only
marked 4°.

"We shall succeed," I said to the Captain, after having anxiously
watched the result of the operation.

"I think," he answered, "that we shall not be crushed.  We have no more
suffocation to fear."

During the night the temperature of the water rose to 1° below
zero.  The injections could not carry it to a higher point.  But, as
the congelation of the sea-water produces at least 2°, I was at
least reassured against the dangers of solidification.

The next day, March 27th, six yards of ice had been cleared, twelve
feet only remaining to be cleared away.  There was yet forty-eight
hours' work.  The air could not be renewed in the interior of the
Nautilus.  And this day would make it worse.  An intolerable weight
oppressed me.  Towards three o'clock in the evening this feeling rose
to a violent degree.  Yawns dislocated my jaws.  My lungs panted as
they inhaled this burning fluid, which became rarefied more and more.
A moral torpor took hold of me.  I was powerless, almost unconscious.
My brave Conseil, though exhibiting the same symptoms and suffering in
the same manner, never left me.  He took my hand and encouraged me, and
I heard him murmur, "Oh! if I could only not breathe, so as to leave
more air for my master!"

Tears came into my eyes on hearing him speak thus.  If our situation to
all was intolerable in the interior, with what haste and gladness would
we put on our cork-jackets to work in our turn!  Pickaxes sounded on
the frozen ice-beds. Our arms ached, the skin was torn off our hands.
But what were these fatigues, what did the wounds matter?  Vital air
came to the lungs!  We breathed! we breathed!

All this time no one prolonged his voluntary task beyond the prescribed
time.  His task accomplished, each one handed in turn to his panting
companions the apparatus that supplied him with life.  Captain Nemo set
the example, and submitted first to this severe discipline.  When the
time came, he gave up his apparatus to another and returned to the
vitiated air on board, calm, unflinching, unmurmuring.

On that day the ordinary work was accomplished with unusual vigour.
Only two yards remained to be raised from the surface.  Two yards only
separated us from the open sea.  But the reservoirs were nearly emptied
of air.  The little that remained ought to be kept for the workers; not
a particle for the Nautilus.  When I went back on board, I was half
suffocated.  What a night!  I know not how to describe it.  The next
day my breathing was oppressed.  Dizziness accompanied the pain in my
head and made me like a drunken man.  My companions showed the same
symptoms.  Some of the crew had rattling in the throat.

On that day, the sixth of our imprisonment, Captain Nemo, finding the
pickaxes work too slowly, resolved to crush the ice-bed that still
separated us from the liquid sheet.  This man's coolness and energy
never forsook him.  He subdued his physical pains by moral force.

By his orders the vessel was lightened, that is to say, raised from the
ice-bed by a change of specific gravity.  When it floated they towed it
so as to bring it above the immense trench made on the level of the
water-line. Then, filling his reservoirs of water, he descended and
shut himself up in the hole.

Just then all the crew came on board, and the double door of
communication was shut.  The Nautilus then rested on the bed of ice,
which was not one yard thick, and which the sounding leads had
perforated in a thousand places.  The taps of the reservoirs were then
opened, and a hundred cubic yards of water was let in, increasing the
weight of the Nautilus to 1,800 tons.  We waited, we listened,
forgetting our sufferings in hope.  Our safety depended on this last
chance.  Notwithstanding the buzzing in my head, I soon heard the
humming sound under the hull of the Nautilus.  The ice cracked with a
singular noise, like tearing paper, and the Nautilus sank.

"We are off!" murmured Conseil in my ear.

I could not answer him.  I seized his hand, and pressed it
convulsively.  All at once, carried away by its frightful overcharge,
the Nautilus sank like a bullet under the waters, that is to say, it
fell as if it was in a vacuum.  Then all the electric force was put on
the pumps, that soon began to let the water out of the reservoirs.
After some minutes, our fall was stopped.  Soon, too, the manometer
indicated an ascending movement.  The screw, going at full speed, made
the iron hull tremble to its very bolts and drew us towards the north.
But if this floating under the iceberg is to last another day before we
reach the open sea, I shall be dead first.

Half stretched upon a divan in the library, I was suffocating.  My face
was purple, my lips blue, my faculties suspended.  I neither saw nor
heard.  All notion of time had gone from my mind.  My muscles could not
contract.  I do not know how many hours passed thus, but I was
conscious of the agony that was coming over me.  I felt as if I was
going to die.  Suddenly I came to.  Some breaths of air penetrated my
lungs.  Had we risen to the surface of the waves?  Were we free of the
iceberg?  No!  Ned and Conseil, my two brave friends, were sacrificing
themselves to save me.  Some particles of air still remained at the
bottom of one apparatus.  Instead of using it, they had kept it for me,
and, while they were being suffocated, they gave me life, drop by drop.
I wanted to push back the thing; they held my hands, and for some
moments I breathed freely.  I looked at the clock; it was eleven in the
morning.  It ought to be the 28th of March.  The Nautilus went at a
frightful pace, forty miles an hour.  It literally tore through the
water.  Where was Captain Nemo?  Had he succumbed?  Were his companions
dead with him?  At the moment the manometer indicated that we were not
more than twenty feet from the surface.  A mere plate of ice separated
us from the atmosphere.  Could we not break it?  Perhaps.  In any case
the Nautilus was going to attempt it.  I felt that it was in an oblique
position, lowering the stern, and raising the bows.  The introduction
of water had been the means of disturbing its equilibrium.  Then,
impelled by its powerful screw, it attacked the ice-field from beneath
like a formidable battering-ram.  It broke it by backing and then
rushing forward against the field, which gradually gave way; and at
last, dashing suddenly against it, shot forwards on the ice-field, that
crushed beneath its weight.  The panel was opened--one might say torn
off--and the pure air came in in abundance to all parts of the Nautilus.



CHAPTER XVII

FROM CAPE HORN TO THE AMAZON

How I got on to the platform, I have no idea; perhaps the Canadian had
carried me there.  But I breathed, I inhaled the vivifying sea-air.  My
two companions were getting drunk with the fresh particles.  The other
unhappy men had been so long without food, that they could not with
impunity indulge in the simplest aliments that were given them.  We, on
the contrary, had no end to restrain ourselves; we could draw this air
freely into our lungs, and it was the breeze, the breeze alone, that
filled us with this keen enjoyment.

"Ah!" said Conseil, "how delightful this oxygen is!  Master need not
fear to breathe it.  There is enough for everybody."

Ned Land did not speak, but he opened his jaws wide enough to frighten
a shark.  Our strength soon returned, and, when I looked round me, I
saw we were alone on the platform.  The foreign seamen in the Nautilus
were contented with the air that circulated in the interior; none of
them had come to drink in the open air.

The first words I spoke were words of gratitude and thankfulness to my
two companions.  Ned and Conseil had prolonged my life during the last
hours of this long agony.  All my gratitude could not repay such
devotion.

"My friends," said I, "we are bound one to the other for ever, and I am
under infinite obligations to you."

"Which I shall take advantage of," exclaimed the Canadian.

"What do you mean?" said Conseil.

"I mean that I shall take you with me when I leave this infernal
Nautilus."

"Well," said Conseil, "after all this, are we going right?"

"Yes," I replied, "for we are going the way of the sun, and here the
sun is in the north."

"No doubt," said Ned Land; "but it remains to be seen whether he will
bring the ship into the Pacific or the Atlantic Ocean, that is, into
frequented or deserted seas."

I could not answer that question, and I feared that Captain Nemo would
rather take us to the vast ocean that touches the coasts of Asia and
America at the same time.  He would thus complete the tour round the
submarine world, and return to those waters in which the Nautilus could
sail freely.  We ought, before long, to settle this important point.
The Nautilus went at a rapid pace.  The polar circle was soon passed,
and the course shaped for Cape Horn.  We were off the American point,
March 31st, at seven o'clock in the evening.  Then all our past
sufferings were forgotten.  The remembrance of that imprisonment in the
ice was effaced from our minds.  We only thought of the future.
Captain Nemo did not appear again either in the drawing-room or on the
platform.  The point shown each day on the planisphere, and, marked by
the lieutenant, showed me the exact direction of the Nautilus.  Now, on
that evening, it was evident, to, my great satisfaction, that we were
going back to the North by the Atlantic.  The next day, April 1st, when
the Nautilus ascended to the surface some minutes before noon, we
sighted land to the west.  It was Terra del Fuego, which the first
navigators named thus from seeing the quantity of smoke that rose from
the natives' huts.  The coast seemed low to me, but in the distance
rose high mountains.  I even thought I had a glimpse of Mount
Sarmiento, that rises 2,070 yards above the level of the sea, with a
very pointed summit, which, according as it is misty or clear, is a
sign of fine or of wet weather.  At this moment the peak was clearly
defined against the sky.  The Nautilus, diving again under the water,
approached the coast, which was only some few miles off.  From the
glass windows in the drawing-room, I saw long seaweeds and gigantic
fuci and varech, of which the open polar sea contains so many
specimens, with their sharp polished filaments; they measured about 300
yards in length--real cables, thicker than one's thumb; and, having
great tenacity, they are often used as ropes for vessels.  Another weed
known as velp, with leaves four feet long, buried in the coral
concretions, hung at the bottom.  It served as nest and food for
myriads of crustacea and molluscs, crabs, and cuttlefish.  There seals
and otters had splendid repasts, eating the flesh of fish with
sea-vegetables, according to the English fashion.  Over this fertile
and luxuriant ground the Nautilus passed with great rapidity.  Towards
evening it approached the Falkland group, the rough summits of which I
recognised the following day.  The depth of the sea was moderate.  On
the shores our nets brought in beautiful specimens of sea weed, and
particularly a certain fucus, the roots of which were filled with the
best mussels in the world.  Geese and ducks fell by dozens on the
platform, and soon took their places in the pantry on board.

When the last heights of the Falklands had disappeared from the
horizon, the Nautilus sank to between twenty and twenty-five yards, and
followed the American coast.  Captain Nemo did not show himself.  Until
the 3rd of April we did not quit the shores of Patagonia, sometimes
under the ocean, sometimes at the surface.  The Nautilus passed beyond
the large estuary formed by the Uraguay.  Its direction was northwards,
and followed the long windings of the coast of South America.  We had
then made 1,600 miles since our embarkation in the seas of Japan.
About eleven o'clock in the morning the Tropic of Capricorn was crossed
on the thirty-seventh meridian, and we passed Cape Frio standing out to
sea.  Captain Nemo, to Ned Land's great displeasure, did not like the
neighbourhood of the inhabited coasts of Brazil, for we went at a giddy
speed.  Not a fish, not a bird of the swiftest kind could follow us,
and the natural curiosities of these seas escaped all observation.

This speed was kept up for several days, and in the evening of the 9th
of April we sighted the most westerly point of South America that forms
Cape San Roque.  But then the Nautilus swerved again, and sought the
lowest depth of a submarine valley which is between this Cape and
Sierra Leone on the African coast.  This valley bifurcates to the
parallel of the Antilles, and terminates at the mouth by the enormous
depression of 9,000 yards.  In this place, the geological basin of the
ocean forms, as far as the Lesser Antilles, a cliff to three and a half
miles perpendicular in height, and, at the parallel of the Cape Verde
Islands, an other wall not less considerable, that encloses thus all
the sunk continent of the Atlantic.  The bottom of this immense valley
is dotted with some mountains, that give to these submarine places a
picturesque aspect.  I speak, moreover, from the manuscript charts that
were in the library of the Nautilus--charts evidently due to Captain
Nemo's hand, and made after his personal observations.  For two days
the desert and deep waters were visited by means of the inclined
planes.  The Nautilus was furnished with long diagonal broadsides which
carried it to all elevations.  But on the 11th of April it rose
suddenly, and land appeared at the mouth of the Amazon River, a vast
estuary, the embouchure of which is so considerable that it freshens
the sea-water for the distance of several leagues.

The equator was crossed. Twenty miles to the west were the Guianas, a
French territory, on which we could have found an easy refuge; but a
stiff breeze was blowing, and the furious waves would not have allowed
a single boat to face them. Ned Land understood that, no doubt, for he
spoke not a word about it. For my part, I made no allusion to his
schemes of flight, for I would not urge him to make an attempt that
must inevitably fail. I made the time pass pleasantly by interesting
studies.  During the days of April 11th and 12th, the Nautilus did not
leave the surface of the sea, and the net brought in a marvellous haul
of Zoophytes, fish and reptiles. Some zoophytes had been fished up by
the chain of the nets; they were for the most part beautiful
phyctallines, belonging to the actinidian family, and among other
species the phyctalis protexta, peculiar to that part of the ocean,
with a little cylindrical trunk, ornamented With vertical lines,
speckled with red dots, crowning a marvellous blossoming of tentacles.
As to the molluscs, they consisted of some I had already
observed--turritellas, olive porphyras, with regular lines
intercrossed, with red spots standing out plainly against the flesh;
odd pteroceras, like petrified scorpions; translucid hyaleas,
argonauts, cuttle-fish (excellent eating), and certain species of
calmars that naturalists of antiquity have classed amongst the
flying-fish, and that serve principally for bait for cod-fishing. I had
now an opportunity of studying several species of fish on these shores.
Amongst the cartilaginous ones, petromyzons-pricka, a sort of eel,
fifteen inches long, with a greenish head, violet fins, grey-blue back,
brown belly, silvered and sown with bright spots, the pupil of the eye
encircled with gold--a curious animal, that the current of the Amazon
had drawn to the sea, for they inhabit fresh waters--tuberculated
streaks, with pointed snouts, and a long loose tail, armed with a long
jagged sting; little sharks, a yard long, grey and whitish skin, and
several rows of teeth, bent back, that are generally known by the name
of pantouffles; vespertilios, a kind of red isosceles triangle, half a
yard long, to which pectorals are attached by fleshy prolongations that
make them look like bats, but that their horny appendage, situated near
the nostrils, has given them the name of sea-unicorns; lastly, some
species of balistae, the curassavian, whose spots were of a brilliant
gold colour, and the capriscus of clear violet, and with varying shades
like a pigeon's throat.

I end here this catalogue, which is somewhat dry perhaps, but very
exact, with a series of bony fish that I observed in passing belonging
to the apteronotes, and whose snout is white as snow, the body of a
beautiful black, marked with a very long loose fleshy strip;
odontognathes, armed with spikes; sardines nine inches long, glittering
with a bright silver light; a species of mackerel provided with two
anal fins; centronotes of a blackish tint, that are fished for with
torches, long fish, two yards in length, with fat flesh, white and
firm, which, when they arc fresh, taste like eel, and when dry, like
smoked salmon; labres, half red, covered with scales only at the bottom
of the dorsal and anal fins; chrysoptera, on which gold and silver
blend their brightness with that of the ruby and topaz; golden-tailed
spares, the flesh of which is extremely delicate, and whose
phosphorescent properties betray them in the midst of the waters;
orange-coloured spares with long tongues; maigres, with gold caudal
fins, dark thorn-tails, anableps of Surinam, etc.

Notwithstanding this "et cetera," I must not omit to mention fish that
Conseil will long remember, and with good reason. One of our nets had
hauled up a sort of very flat ray fish, which, with the tail cut off,
formed a perfect disc, and weighed twenty ounces. It was white
underneath, red above, with large round spots of dark blue encircled
with black, very glossy skin, terminating in a bilobed fin. Laid out on
the platform, it struggled, tried to turn itself by convulsive
movements, and made so many efforts, that one last turn had nearly sent
it into the sea. But Conseil, not wishing to let the fish go, rushed to
it, and, before I could prevent him, had seized it with both hands. In
a moment he was overthrown, his legs in the air, and half his body
paralysed, crying--

"Oh! master, master! help me!"

It was the first time the poor boy had spoken to me so familiarly.  The
Canadian and I took him up, and rubbed his contracted arms till he
became sensible. The unfortunate Conseil had attacked a cramp-fish of
the most dangerous kind, the cumana. This odd animal, in a medium
conductor like water, strikes fish at several yards' distance, so great
is the power of its electric organ, the two principal surfaces of which
do not measure less than twenty-seven square feet. The next day, April
12th, the Nautilus approached the Dutch coast, near the mouth of the
Maroni. There several groups of sea-cows herded together; they were
manatees, that, like the dugong and the stellera, belong to the skenian
order. These beautiful animals, peaceable and inoffensive, from
eighteen to twenty-one feet in length, weigh at least sixteen
hundredweight. I told Ned Land and Conseil that provident nature had
assigned an important role to these mammalia. Indeed, they, like the
seals, are designed to graze on the submarine prairies, and thus
destroy the accumulation of weed that obstructs the tropical rivers.

"And do you know," I added, "what has been the result since men have
almost entirely annihilated this useful race? That the putrefied weeds
have poisoned the air, and the poisoned air causes the yellow fever,
that desolates these beautiful countries. Enormous vegetations are
multiplied under the torrid seas, and the evil is irresistibly
developed from the mouth of the Rio de la Plata to Florida. If we are
to believe Toussenel, this plague is nothing to what it would be if the
seas were cleaned of whales and seals. Then, infested with poulps,
medusae, and cuttle-fish, they would become immense centres of
infection, since their waves would not possess 'these vast stomachs
that God had charged to infest the surface of the seas.'"



CHAPTER XVIII

THE POULPS

For several days the Nautilus kept off from the American coast.
Evidently it did not wish to risk the tides of the Gulf of Mexico or of
the sea of the Antilles.  April 16th, we sighted Martinique and
Guadaloupe from a distance of about thirty miles.  I saw their tall
peaks for an instant.  The Canadian, who counted on carrying out his
projects in the Gulf, by either landing or hailing one of the numerous
boats that coast from one island to another, was quite disheartened.
Flight would have been quite practicable, if Ned Land had been able to
take possession of the boat without the Captain's knowledge.  But in
the open sea it could not be thought of.  The Canadian, Conseil, and I
had a long conversation on this subject.  For six months we had been
prisoners on board the Nautilus.  We had travelled 17,000 leagues; and,
as Ned Land said, there was no reason why it should come to an end.  We
could hope nothing from the Captain of the Nautilus, but only from
ourselves.  Besides, for some time past he had become graver, more
retired, less sociable.  He seemed to shun me.  I met him rarely.
Formerly he was pleased to explain the submarine marvels to me; now he
left me to my studies, and came no more to the saloon.  What change had
come over him?  For what cause?  For my part, I did not wish to bury
with me my curious and novel studies.  I had now the power to write the
true book of the sea; and this book, sooner or later, I wished to see
daylight.  The land nearest us was the archipelago of the Bahamas.
There rose high submarine cliffs covered with large weeds.  It was
about eleven o'clock when Ned Land drew my attention to a formidable
pricking, like the sting of an ant, which was produced by means of
large seaweeds.

"Well," I said, "these are proper caverns for poulps, and I should not
be astonished to see some of these monsters."

"What!" said Conseil; "cuttlefish, real cuttlefish of the cephalopod
class?"

"No," I said, "poulps of huge dimensions."

"I will never believe that such animals exist," said Ned.

"Well," said Conseil, with the most serious air in the world, "I
remember perfectly to have seen a large vessel drawn under the waves by
an octopus's arm."

"You saw that?" said the Canadian.

"Yes, Ned."

"With your own eyes?"

"With my own eyes."

"Where, pray, might that be?"

"At St. Malo," answered Conseil.

"In the port?" said Ned, ironically.

"No; in a church," replied Conseil.

"In a church!" cried the Canadian.

"Yes; friend Ned.  In a picture representing the poulp in question."

"Good!" said Ned Land, bursting out laughing.

"He is quite right," I said.  "I have heard of this picture; but the
subject represented is taken from a legend, and you know what to think
of legends in the matter of natural history.  Besides, when it is a
question of monsters, the imagination is apt to run wild.  Not only is
it supposed that these poulps can draw down vessels, but a certain
Olaus Magnus speaks of an octopus a mile long that is more like an
island than an animal.  It is also said that the Bishop of Nidros was
building an altar on an immense rock.  Mass finished, the rock began to
walk, and returned to the sea.  The rock was a poulp.  Another Bishop,
Pontoppidan, speaks also of a poulp on which a regiment of cavalry
could manoeuvre.  Lastly, the ancient naturalists speak of monsters
whose mouths were like gulfs, and which were too large to pass through
the Straits of Gibraltar."

"But how much is true of these stories?" asked Conseil.

"Nothing, my friends; at least of that which passes the limit of truth
to get to fable or legend.  Nevertheless, there must be some ground for
the imagination of the story-tellers. One cannot deny that poulps and
cuttlefish exist of a large species, inferior, however, to the
cetaceans.  Aristotle has stated the dimensions of a cuttlefish as five
cubits, or nine feet two inches.  Our fishermen frequently see some
that are more than four feet long.  Some skeletons of poulps are
preserved in the museums of Trieste and Montpelier, that measure two
yards in length.  Besides, according to the calculations of some
naturalists, one of these animals only six feet long would have
tentacles twenty-seven feet long.  That would suffice to make a
formidable monster."

"Do they fish for them in these days?" asked Ned.

"If they do not fish for them, sailors see them at least.  One of my
friends, Captain Paul Bos of Havre, has often affirmed that he met one
of these monsters of colossal dimensions in the Indian seas.  But the
most astonishing fact, and which does not permit of the denial of the
existence of these gigantic animals, happened some years ago, in 1861."

"What is the fact?" asked Ned Land.

"This is it.  In 1861, to the north-east of Teneriffe, very nearly in
the same latitude we are in now, the crew of the despatch-boat Alector
perceived a monstrous cuttlefish swimming in the waters.  Captain
Bouguer went near to the animal, and attacked it with harpoon and guns,
without much success, for balls and harpoons glided over the soft
flesh.  After several fruitless attempts the crew tried to pass a
slip-knot round the body of the mollusc.  The noose slipped as far as
the tail fins and there stopped.  They tried then to haul it on board,
but its weight was so considerable that the tightness of the cord
separated the tail from the body, and, deprived of this ornament, he
disappeared under the water."

"Indeed! is that a fact?"

"An indisputable fact, my good Ned.  They proposed to name this poulp
`Bouguer's cuttlefish.'"

"What length was it?" asked the Canadian.

"Did it not measure about six yards?" said Conseil, who, posted at the
window, was examining again the irregular windings of the cliff.

"Precisely," I replied.

"Its head," rejoined Conseil, "was it not crowned with eight tentacles,
that beat the water like a nest of serpents?"

"Precisely."

"Had not its eyes, placed at the back of its head, considerable
development?"

"Yes, Conseil."

"And was not its mouth like a parrot's beak?"

"Exactly, Conseil."

"Very well! no offence to master," he replied, quietly; "if this is not
Bouguer's cuttlefish, it is, at least, one of its brothers."

I looked at Conseil.  Ned Land hurried to the window.

"What a horrible beast!" he cried.

I looked in my turn, and could not repress a gesture of disgust.
Before my eyes was a horrible monster worthy to figure in the legends
of the marvellous.  It was an immense cuttlefish, being eight yards
long.  It swam crossways in the direction of the Nautilus with great
speed, watching us with its enormous staring green eyes.  Its eight
arms, or rather feet, fixed to its head, that have given the name of
cephalopod to these animals, were twice as long as its body, and were
twisted like the furies' hair.  One could see the 250 air holes on the
inner side of the tentacles.  The monster's mouth, a horned beak like a
parrot's, opened and shut vertically.  Its tongue, a horned substance,
furnished with several rows of pointed teeth, came out quivering from
this veritable pair of shears.  What a freak of nature, a bird's beak
on a mollusc!  Its spindle-like body formed a fleshy mass that might
weigh 4,000 to 5,000 lb.; the, varying colour changing with great
rapidity, according to the irritation of the animal, passed
successively from livid grey to reddish brown.  What irritated this
mollusc?  No doubt the presence of the Nautilus, more formidable than
itself, and on which its suckers or its jaws had no hold.  Yet, what
monsters these poulps are! what vitality the Creator has given them!
what vigour in their movements! and they possess three hearts!  Chance
had brought us in presence of this cuttlefish, and I did not wish to
lose the opportunity of carefully studying this specimen of
cephalopods.  I overcame the horror that inspired me, and, taking a
pencil, began to draw it.

"Perhaps this is the same which the Alector saw," said Conseil.

"No," replied the Canadian; "for this is whole, and the other had lost
its tail."

"That is no reason," I replied.  "The arms and tails of these animals
are re-formed by renewal; and in seven years the tail of Bouguer's
cuttlefish has no doubt had time to grow."

By this time other poulps appeared at the port light.  I counted seven.
They formed a procession after the Nautilus, and I heard their beaks
gnashing against the iron hull.  I continued my work.  These monsters
kept in the water with such precision that they seemed immovable.
Suddenly the Nautilus stopped.  A shock made it tremble in every plate.

"Have we struck anything?"  I asked.

"In any case," replied the Canadian, "we shall be free, for we are
floating."

The Nautilus was floating, no doubt, but it did not move.  A minute
passed.  Captain Nemo, followed by his lieutenant, entered the
drawing-room. I had not seen him for some time.  He seemed dull.
Without noticing or speaking to us, he went to the panel, looked at the
poulps, and said something to his lieutenant.  The latter went out.
Soon the panels were shut.  The ceiling was lighted.  I went towards
the Captain.

"A curious collection of poulps?"  I said.

"Yes, indeed, Mr. Naturalist," he replied; "and we are going to fight
them, man to beast."

I looked at him.  I thought I had not heard aright.

"Man to beast?"  I repeated.

"Yes, sir.  The screw is stopped.  I think that the horny jaws of one
of the cuttlefish is entangled in the blades.  That is what prevents
our moving."

"What are you going to do?"

"Rise to the surface, and slaughter this vermin."

"A difficult enterprise."

"Yes, indeed.  The electric bullets are powerless against the soft
flesh, where they do not find resistance enough to go off.  But we
shall attack them with the hatchet."

"And the harpoon, sir," said the Canadian, "if you do not refuse my
help."

"I will accept it, Master Land."

"We will follow you," I said, and, following Captain Nemo, we went
towards the central staircase.

There, about ten men with boarding-hatchets were ready for the attack.
Conseil and I took two hatchets; Ned Land seized a harpoon.  The
Nautilus had then risen to the surface.  One of the sailors, posted on
the top ladderstep, unscrewed the bolts of the panels.  But hardly were
the screws loosed, when the panel rose with great violence, evidently
drawn by the suckers of a poulp's arm.  Immediately one of these arms
slid like a serpent down the opening and twenty others were above.
With one blow of the axe, Captain Nemo cut this formidable tentacle,
that slid wriggling down the ladder.  Just as we were pressing one on
the other to reach the platform, two other arms, lashing the air, came
down on the seaman placed before Captain Nemo, and lifted him up with
irresistible power.  Captain Nemo uttered a cry, and rushed out.  We
hurried after him.

What a scene!  The unhappy man, seized by the tentacle and fixed to the
suckers, was balanced in the air at the caprice of this enormous trunk.
He rattled in his throat, he was stifled, he cried, "Help! help!"
These words, spoken in French, startled me!  I had a fellow-countryman
on board, perhaps several!  That heart-rending cry!  I shall hear it
all my life.  The unfortunate man was lost.  Who could rescue him from
that powerful pressure?  However, Captain Nemo had rushed to the poulp,
and with one blow of the axe had cut through one arm.  His lieutenant
struggled furiously against other monsters that crept on the flanks of
the Nautilus.  The crew fought with their axes.  The Canadian, Conseil,
and I buried our weapons in the fleshy masses; a strong smell of musk
penetrated the atmosphere.  It was horrible!

For one instant, I thought the unhappy man, entangled with the poulp,
would be torn from its powerful suction.  Seven of the eight arms had
been cut off.  One only wriggled in the air, brandishing the victim
like a feather.  But just as Captain Nemo and his lieutenant threw
themselves on it, the animal ejected a stream of black liquid.  We were
blinded with it.  When the cloud dispersed, the cuttlefish had
disappeared, and my unfortunate countryman with it.  Ten or twelve
poulps now invaded the platform and sides of the Nautilus.  We rolled
pell-mell into the midst of this nest of serpents, that wriggled on the
platform in the waves of blood and ink.  It seemed as though these
slimy tentacles sprang up like the hydra's heads.  Ned Land's harpoon,
at each stroke, was plunged into the staring eyes of the cuttle fish.
But my bold companion was suddenly overturned by the tentacles of a
monster he had not been able to avoid.

Ah! how my heart beat with emotion and horror!  The formidable beak of
a cuttlefish was open over Ned Land.  The unhappy man would be cut in
two.  I rushed to his succour.  But Captain Nemo was before me; his axe
disappeared between the two enormous jaws, and, miraculously saved, the
Canadian, rising, plunged his harpoon deep into the triple heart of the
poulp.

"I owed myself this revenge!" said the Captain to the Canadian.

Ned bowed without replying.  The combat had lasted a quarter of an
hour.  The monsters, vanquished and mutilated, left us at last, and
disappeared under the waves.  Captain Nemo, covered with blood, nearly
exhausted, gazed upon the sea that had swallowed up one of his
companions, and great tears gathered in his eyes.



CHAPTER XIX

THE GULF STREAM

This terrible scene of the 20th of April none of us can ever forget.  I
have written it under the influence of violent emotion.  Since then I
have revised the recital; I have read it to Conseil and to the
Canadian.  They found it exact as to facts, but insufficient as to
effect.  To paint such pictures, one must have the pen of the most
illustrious of our poets, the author of The Toilers of the Deep.

I have said that Captain Nemo wept while watching the waves; his grief
was great.  It was the second companion he had lost since our arrival
on board, and what a death!  That friend, crushed, stifled, bruised by
the dreadful arms of a poulp, pounded by his iron jaws, would not rest
with his comrades in the peaceful coral cemetery!  In the midst of the
struggle, it was the despairing cry uttered by the unfortunate man that
had torn my heart.  The poor Frenchman, forgetting his conventional
language, had taken to his own mother tongue, to utter a last appeal!
Amongst the crew of the Nautilus, associated with the body and soul of
the Captain, recoiling like him from all contact with men, I had a
fellow-countryman. Did he alone represent France in this mysterious
association, evidently composed of individuals of divers nationalities?
It was one of these insoluble problems that rose up unceasingly before
my mind!

Captain Nemo entered his room, and I saw him no more for some time.
But that he was sad and irresolute I could see by the vessel, of which
he was the soul, and which received all his impressions.  The Nautilus
did not keep on in its settled course; it floated about like a corpse
at the will of the waves.  It went at random.  He could not tear
himself away from the scene of the last struggle, from this sea that
had devoured one of his men.  Ten days passed thus.  It was not till
the 1st of May that the Nautilus resumed its northerly course, after
having sighted the Bahamas at the mouth of the Bahama Canal.  We were
then following the current from the largest river to the sea, that has
its banks, its fish, and its proper temperatures.  I mean the Gulf
Stream.  It is really a river, that flows freely to the middle of the
Atlantic, and whose waters do not mix with the ocean waters.  It is a
salt river, salter than the surrounding sea.  Its mean depth is 1,500
fathoms, its mean breadth ten miles.  In certain places the current
flows with the speed of two miles and a half an hour.  The body of its
waters is more considerable than that of all the rivers in the globe.
It was on this ocean river that the Nautilus then sailed.

I must add that, during the night, the phosphorescent waters of the
Gulf Stream rivalled the electric power of our watch-light, especially
in the stormy weather that threatened us so frequently.  May 8th, we
were still crossing Cape Hatteras, at the height of the North Caroline.
The width of the Gulf Stream there is seventy-five miles, and its depth
210 yards.  The Nautilus still went at random; all supervision seemed
abandoned.  I thought that, under these circumstances, escape would be
possible.  Indeed, the inhabited shores offered anywhere an easy
refuge.  The sea was incessantly ploughed by the steamers that ply
between New York or Boston and the Gulf of Mexico, and overrun day and
night by the little schooners coasting about the several parts of the
American coast.  We could hope to be picked up.  It was a favourable
opportunity, notwithstanding the thirty miles that separated the
Nautilus from the coasts of the Union.  One unfortunate circumstance
thwarted the Canadian's plans.  The weather was very bad.  We were
nearing those shores where tempests are so frequent, that country of
waterspouts and cyclones actually engendered by the current of the Gulf
Stream.  To tempt the sea in a frail boat was certain destruction.  Ned
Land owned this himself.  He fretted, seized with nostalgia that flight
only could cure.

"Master," he said that day to me, "this must come to an end.  I must
make a clean breast of it.  This Nemo is leaving land and going up to
the north.  But I declare to you that I have had enough of the South
Pole, and I will not follow him to the North."

"What is to be done, Ned, since flight is impracticable just now?"

"We must speak to the Captain," said he; "you said nothing when we were
in your native seas.  I will speak, now we are in mine.  When I think
that before long the Nautilus will be by Nova Scotia, and that there
near New foundland is a large bay, and into that bay the St. Lawrence
empties itself, and that the St. Lawrence is my river, the river by
Quebec, my native town--when I think of this, I feel furious, it makes
my hair stand on end.  Sir, I would rather throw myself into the sea!
I will not stay here!  I am stifled!"

The Canadian was evidently losing all patience.  His vigorous nature
could not stand this prolonged imprisonment.  His face altered daily;
his temper became more surly.  I knew what he must suffer, for I was
seized with home-sickness myself.  Nearly seven months had passed
without our having had any news from land; Captain Nemo's isolation,
his altered spirits, especially since the fight with the poulps, his
taciturnity, all made me view things in a different light.

"Well, sir?" said Ned, seeing I did not reply.

"Well, Ned, do you wish me to ask Captain Nemo his intentions
concerning us?"

"Yes, sir."

"Although he has already made them known?"

"Yes; I wish it settled finally.  Speak for me, in my name only, if you
like."

"But I so seldom meet him.  He avoids me."

"That is all the more reason for you to go to see him."

I went to my room.  From thence I meant to go to Captain Nemo's.  It
would not do to let this opportunity of meeting him slip.  I knocked at
the door.  No answer.  I knocked again, then turned the handle.  The
door opened, I went in.  The Captain was there.  Bending over his
work-table, he had not heard me.  Resolved not to go without having
spoken, I approached him.  He raised his head quickly, frowned, and
said roughly, "You here!  What do you want?"

"To speak to you, Captain."

"But I am busy, sir; I am working.  I leave you at liberty to shut
yourself up; cannot I be allowed the same?"

This reception was not encouraging; but I was determined to hear and
answer everything.

"Sir," I said coldly, "I have to speak to you on a matter that admits
of no delay."

"What is that, sir?" he replied, ironically.  "Have you discovered
something that has escaped me, or has the sea delivered up any new
secrets?"

We were at cross-purposes. But, before I could reply, he showed me an
open manuscript on his table, and said, in a more serious tone, "Here,
M. Aronnax, is a manuscript written in several languages.  It contains
the sum of my studies of the sea; and, if it please God, it shall not
perish with me.  This manuscript, signed with my name, complete with
the history of my life, will be shut up in a little floating case.  The
last survivor of all of us on board the Nautilus will throw this case
into the sea, and it will go whither it is borne by the waves."

This man's name! his history written by himself!  His mystery would
then be revealed some day.

"Captain," I said, "I can but approve of the idea that makes you act
thus.  The result of your studies must not be lost.  But the means you
employ seem to me to be primitive.  Who knows where the winds will
carry this case, and in whose hands it will fall?  Could you not use
some other means?  Could not you, or one of yours----"

"Never, sir!" he said, hastily interrupting me.

"But I and my companions are ready to keep this manuscript in store;
and, if you will put us at liberty----"

"At liberty?" said the Captain, rising.

"Yes, sir; that is the subject on which I wish to question you.  For
seven months we have been here on board, and I ask you to-day, in the
name of my companions and in my own, if your intention is to keep us
here always?"

"M. Aronnax, I will answer you to-day as I did seven months ago:
Whoever enters the Nautilus, must never quit it."

"You impose actual slavery upon us!"

"Give it what name you please."

"But everywhere the slave has the right to regain his liberty."

"Who denies you this right?  Have I ever tried to chain you with an
oath?"

He looked at me with his arms crossed.

"Sir," I said, "to return a second time to this subject will be neither
to your nor to my taste; but, as we have entered upon it, let us go
through with it.  I repeat, it is not only myself whom it concerns.
Study is to me a relief, a diversion, a passion that could make me
forget everything.  Like you, I am willing to live obscure, in the
frail hope of bequeathing one day, to future time, the result of my
labours.  But it is otherwise with Ned Land.  Every man, worthy of the
name, deserves some consideration.  Have you thought that love of
liberty, hatred of slavery, can give rise to schemes of revenge in a
nature like the Canadian's; that he could think, attempt, and try----"

I was silenced; Captain Nemo rose.

"Whatever Ned Land thinks of, attempts, or tries, what does it matter
to me?  I did not seek him!  It is not for my pleasure that I keep him
on board!  As for you, M. Aronnax, you are one of those who can
understand everything, even silence.  I have nothing more to say to
you.  Let this first time you have come to treat of this subject be the
last, for a second time I will not listen to you."

I retired.  Our situation was critical.  I related my conversation to
my two companions.

"We know now," said Ned, "that we can expect nothing from this man.
The Nautilus is nearing Long Island.  We will escape, whatever the
weather may be."

But the sky became more and more threatening.  Symptoms of a hurricane
became manifest.  The atmosphere was becoming white and misty.  On the
horizon fine streaks of cirrhous clouds were succeeded by masses of
cumuli.  Other low clouds passed swiftly by.  The swollen sea rose in
huge billows.  The birds disappeared with the exception of the petrels,
those friends of the storm.  The barometer fell sensibly, and indicated
an extreme extension of the vapours.  The mixture of the storm glass
was decomposed under the influence of the electricity that pervaded the
atmosphere.  The tempest burst on the 18th of May, just as the Nautilus
was floating off Long Island, some miles from the port of New York.  I
can describe this strife of the elements! for, instead of fleeing to
the depths of the sea, Captain Nemo, by an unaccountable caprice, would
brave it at the surface.  The wind blew from the south-west at first.
Captain Nemo, during the squalls, had taken his place on the platform.
He had made himself fast, to prevent being washed overboard by the
monstrous waves.  I had hoisted myself up, and made myself fast also,
dividing my admiration between the tempest and this extraordinary man
who was coping with it.  The raging sea was swept by huge cloud-drifts,
which were actually saturated with the waves.  The Nautilus, sometimes
lying on its side, sometimes standing up like a mast, rolled and
pitched terribly.  About five o'clock a torrent of rain fell, that
lulled neither sea nor wind.  The hurri cane blew nearly forty leagues
an hour.  It is under these conditions that it overturns houses, breaks
iron gates, displaces twenty-four pounders.  However, the Nautilus, in
the midst of the tempest, confirmed the words of a clever engineer,
"There is no well-constructed hull that cannot defy the sea." This was
not a resisting rock; it was a steel spindle, obedient and movable,
without rigging or masts, that braved its fury with impunity.  However,
I watched these raging waves attentively.  They measured fifteen feet
in height, and 150 to 175 yards long, and their speed of propagation
was thirty feet per second.  Their bulk and power increased with the
depth of the water.  Such waves as these, at the Hebrides, have
displaced a mass weighing 8,400 lb.  They are they which, in the
tempest of December 23rd, 1864, after destroying the town of Yeddo, in
Japan, broke the same day on the shores of America.  The intensity of
the tempest increased with the night.  The barometer, as in 1860 at
Reunion during a cyclone, fell seven-tenths at the close of day.  I saw
a large vessel pass the horizon struggling painfully.  She was trying
to lie to under half steam, to keep up above the waves.  It was
probably one of the steamers of the line from New York to Liverpool, or
Havre.  It soon disappeared in the gloom.  At ten o'clock in the
evening the sky was on fire.  The atmosphere was streaked with vivid
lightning.  I could not bear the brightness of it; while the captain,
looking at it, seemed to envy the spirit of the tempest.  A terrible
noise filled the air, a complex noise, made up of the howls of the
crushed waves, the roaring of the wind, and the claps of thunder.  The
wind veered suddenly to all points of the horizon; and the cyclone,
rising in the east, returned after passing by the north, west, and
south, in the inverse course pursued by the circular storm of the
southern hemisphere.  Ah, that Gulf Stream!  It deserves its name of
the King of Tempests.  It is that which causes those formidable
cyclones, by the difference of temperature between its air and its
currents.  A shower of fire had succeeded the rain.  The drops of water
were changed to sharp spikes.  One would have thought that Captain Nemo
was courting a death worthy of himself, a death by lightning.  As the
Nautilus, pitching dreadfully, raised its steel spur in the air, it
seemed to act as a conductor, and I saw long sparks burst from it.
Crushed and without strength I crawled to the panel, opened it, and
descended to the saloon.  The storm was then at its height.  It was
impossible to stand upright in the interior of the Nautilus.  Captain
Nemo came down about twelve.  I heard the reservoirs filling by
degrees, and the Nautilus sank slowly beneath the waves.  Through the
open windows in the saloon I saw large fish terrified, passing like
phantoms in the water.  Some were struck before my eyes.  The Nautilus
was still descending.  I thought that at about eight fathoms deep we
should find a calm.  But no! the upper beds were too violently agitated
for that.  We had to seek repose at more than twenty-five fathoms in
the bowels of the deep.  But there, what quiet, what silence, what
peace!  Who could have told that such a hurricane had been let loose on
the surface of that ocean?



CHAPTER XX

FROM LATITUDE 47° 24' TO LONGITUDE 17° 28'

In consequence of the storm, we had been thrown eastward once more.
All hope of escape on the shores of New York or St. Lawrence had faded
away; and poor Ned, in despair, had isolated himself like Captain Nemo.
Conseil and I, however, never left each other.  I said that the
Nautilus had gone aside to the east.  I should have said (to be more
exact) the north-east. For some days, it wandered first on the surface,
and then beneath it, amid those fogs so dreaded by sailors.  What
accidents are due to these thick fogs!  What shocks upon these reefs
when the wind drowns the breaking of the waves!  What collisions
between vessels, in spite of their warning lights, whistles, and alarm
bells!  And the bottoms of these seas look like a field of battle,
where still lie all the conquered of the ocean; some old and already
encrusted, others fresh and reflecting from their iron bands and copper
plates the brilliancy of our lantern.

On the 15th of May we were at the extreme south of the Bank of
Newfoundland.  This bank consists of alluvia, or large heaps of organic
matter, brought either from the Equator by the Gulf Stream, or from the
North Pole by the counter-current of cold water which skirts the
American coast.  There also are heaped up those erratic blocks which
are carried along by the broken ice; and close by, a vast charnel-house
of molluscs, which perish here by millions.  The depth of the sea is
not great at Newfoundland--not more than some hundreds of fathoms; but
towards the south is a depression of 1,500 fathoms.  There the Gulf
Stream widens.  It loses some of its speed and some of its temperature,
but it becomes a sea.

It was on the 17th of May, about 500 miles from Heart's Content, at a
depth of more than 1,400 fathoms, that I saw the electric cable lying
on the bottom.  Conseil, to whom I had not mentioned it, thought at
first that it was a gigantic sea-serpent. But I undeceived the worthy
fellow, and by way of consolation related several particulars in the
laying of this cable.  The first one was laid in the years 1857 and
1858; but, after transmitting about 400 telegrams, would not act any
longer.  In 1863 the engineers constructed an other one, measuring
2,000 miles in length, and weighing 4,500 tons, which was embarked on
the Great Eastern.  This attempt also failed.

On the 25th of May the Nautilus, being at a depth of more than 1,918
fathoms, was on the precise spot where the rupture occurred which
ruined the enterprise.  It was within 638 miles of the coast of
Ireland; and at half-past two in the afternoon they discovered that
communication with Europe had ceased.  The electricians on board
resolved to cut the cable before fishing it up, and at eleven o'clock
at night they had recovered the damaged part.  They made another point
and spliced it, and it was once more submerged.  But some days after it
broke again, and in the depths of the ocean could not be recaptured.
The Americans, however, were not discouraged.  Cyrus Field, the bold
promoter of the enterprise, as he had sunk all his own fortune, set a
new subscription on foot, which was at once answered, and another cable
was constructed on better principles.  The bundles of conducting wires
were each enveloped in gutta-percha, and protected by a wadding of
hemp, contained in a metallic covering.  The Great Eastern sailed on
the 13th of July, 1866.  The operation worked well.  But one incident
occurred.  Several times in unrolling the cable they observed that
nails had recently been forced into it, evidently with the motive of
destroying it.  Captain Anderson, the officers, and engineers consulted
together, and had it posted up that, if the offender was surprised on
board, he would be thrown without further trial into the sea.  From
that time the criminal attempt was never repeated.

On the 23rd of July the Great Eastern was not more than 500 miles from
Newfoundland, when they telegraphed from Ireland the news of the
armistice concluded between Prussia and Austria after Sadowa.  On the
27th, in the midst of heavy fogs, they reached the port of Heart's
Content.  The enterprise was successfully terminated; and for its first
despatch, young America addressed old Europe in these words of wisdom,
so rarely understood:  "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth
peace, goodwill towards men."

I did not expect to find the electric cable in its primitive state,
such as it was on leaving the manufactory.  The long serpent, covered
with the remains of shells, bristling with foraminiferae, was encrusted
with a strong coating which served as a protection against all boring
molluscs.  It lay quietly sheltered from the motions of the sea, and
under a favourable pressure for the transmission of the electric spark
which passes from Europe to America in .32 of a second.  Doubtless this
cable will last for a great length of time, for they find that the
gutta-percha covering is improved by the sea-water. Besides, on this
level, so well chosen, the cable is never so deeply submerged as to
cause it to break.  The Nautilus followed it to the lowest depth, which
was more than 2,212 fathoms, and there it lay without any anchorage;
and then we reached the spot where the accident had taken place in
1863.  The bottom of the ocean then formed a valley about 100 miles
broad, in which Mont Blanc might have been placed without its summit
appearing above the waves.  This valley is closed at the east by a
perpendicular wall more than 2,000 yards high.  We arrived there on the
28th of May, and the Nautilus was then not more than 120 miles from
Ireland.

Was Captain Nemo going to land on the British Isles?  No. To my great
surprise he made for the south, once more coming back towards European
seas.  In rounding the Emerald Isle, for one instant I caught sight of
Cape Clear, and the light which guides the thousands of vessels leaving
Glasgow or Liverpool.  An important question then arose in my mind.
Did the Nautilus dare entangle itself in the Manche?  Ned Land, who had
re-appeared since we had been nearing land, did not cease to question
me.  How could I answer?  Captain Nemo remained invisible.  After
having shown the Canadian a glimpse of American shores, was he going to
show me the coast of France?

But the Nautilus was still going southward.  On the 30th of May, it
passed in sight of Land's End, between the extreme point of England and
the Scilly Isles, which were left to starboard.  If we wished to enter
the Manche, he must go straight to the east.  He did not do so.

During the whole of the 31st of May, the Nautilus described a series of
circles on the water, which greatly interested me.  It seemed to be
seeking a spot it had some trouble in finding.  At noon, Captain Nemo
himself came to work the ship's log.  He spoke no word to me, but
seemed gloomier than ever.  What could sadden him thus?  Was it his
proxim ity to European shores?  Had he some recollections of his
abandoned country?  If not, what did he feel?  Remorse or regret?  For
a long while this thought haunted my mind, and I had a kind of
presentiment that before long chance would betray the captain's secrets.

The next day, the 1st of June, the Nautilus continued the same process.
It was evidently seeking some particular spot in the ocean.  Captain
Nemo took the sun's altitude as he had done the day before.  The sea
was beautiful, the sky clear.  About eight miles to the east, a large
steam vessel could be discerned on the horizon.  No flag fluttered from
its mast, and I could not discover its nationality.  Some minutes
before the sun passed the meridian, Captain Nemo took his sextant, and
watched with great attention.  The perfect rest of the water greatly
helped the operation.  The Nautilus was motionless; it neither rolled
nor pitched.

I was on the platform when the altitude was taken, and the Captain
pronounced these words:  "It is here."

He turned and went below.  Had he seen the vessel which was changing
its course and seemed to be nearing us?  I could not tell.  I returned
to the saloon.  The panels closed, I heard the hissing of the water in
the reservoirs.  The Nautilus began to sink, following a vertical line,
for its screw communicated no motion to it.  Some minutes later it
stopped at a depth of more than 420 fathoms, resting on the ground.
The luminous ceiling was darkened, then the panels were opened, and
through the glass I saw the sea brilliantly illuminated by the rays of
our lantern for at least half a mile round us.

I looked to the port side, and saw nothing but an immensity of quiet
waters.  But to starboard, on the bottom appeared a large protuberance,
which at once attracted my attention.  One would have thought it a ruin
buried under a coating of white shells, much resembling a covering of
snow.  Upon examining the mass attentively, I could recognise the
ever-thickening form of a vessel bare of its masts, which must have
sunk.  It certainly belonged to past times.  This wreck, to be thus
encrusted with the lime of the water, must already be able to count
many years passed at the bottom of the ocean.

What was this vessel?  Why did the Nautilus visit its tomb?  Could it
have been aught but a shipwreck which had drawn it under the water?  I
knew not what to think, when near me in a slow voice I heard Captain
Nemo say:

"At one time this ship was called the Marseillais.  It carried
seventy-four guns, and was launched in 1762.  In 1778, the 13th of
August, commanded by La Poype-Ver trieux, it fought boldly against the
Preston.  In 1779, on the 4th of July, it was at the taking of Grenada,
with the squadron of Admiral Estaing.  In 1781, on the 5th of
September, it took part in the battle of Comte de Grasse, in Chesapeake
Bay.  In 1794, the French Republic changed its name.  On the 16th of
April, in the same year, it joined the squadron of Villaret Joyeuse, at
Brest, being entrusted with the escort of a cargo of corn coming from
America, under the command of Admiral Van Stebel.  On the 11th and 12th
Prairal of the second year, this squadron fell in with an English
vessel.  Sir, to-day is the 13th Prairal, the first of June, 1868.  It
is now seventy-four years ago, day for day on this very spot, in
latitude 47° 24', longitude 17° 28', that this vessel, after
fighting heroically, losing its three masts, with the water in its
hold, and the third of its crew disabled, preferred sinking with its
356 sailors to surrendering; and, nailing its colours to the poop,
disappeared under the waves to the cry of `Long live the Republic!'"

"The Avenger!"  I exclaimed.

"Yes, sir, the Avenger!  A good name!" muttered Captain Nemo, crossing
his arms.



CHAPTER XXI

A HECATOMB

The way of describing this unlooked-for scene, the history of the
patriot ship, told at first so coldly, and the emotion with which this
strange man pronounced the last words, the name of the Avenger, the
significance of which could not escape me, all impressed itself deeply
on my mind.  My eyes did not leave the Captain, who, with his hand
stretched out to sea, was watching with a glowing eye the glorious
wreck.  Perhaps I was never to know who he was, from whence he came, or
where he was going to, but I saw the man move, and apart from the
savant.  It was no common misanthropy which had shut Captain Nemo and
his companions within the Nautilus, but a hatred, either monstrous or
sublime, which time could never weaken.  Did this hatred still seek for
vengeance?  The future would soon teach me that.  But the Nautilus was
rising slowly to the surface of the sea, and the form of the Avenger
disappeared by degrees from my sight.  Soon a slight rolling told me
that we were in the open air.  At that moment a dull boom was heard.  I
looked at the Captain.  He did not move.

"Captain?" said I.

He did not answer.  I left him and mounted the platform.  Conseil and
the Canadian were already there.

"Where did that sound come from?"  I asked.

"It was a gunshot," replied Ned Land.

I looked in the direction of the vessel I had already seen.  It was
nearing the Nautilus, and we could see that it was putting on steam.
It was within six miles of us.

"What is that ship, Ned?"

"By its rigging, and the height of its lower masts," said the Canadian,
"I bet she is a ship-of-war. May it reach us; and, if necessary, sink
this cursed Nautilus."

"Friend Ned," replied Conseil, "what harm can it do to the Nautilus?
Can it attack it beneath the waves?  Can its cannonade us at the bottom
of the sea?"

"Tell me, Ned," said I, "can you recognise what country she belongs to?"

The Canadian knitted his eyebrows, dropped his eyelids, and screwed up
the corners of his eyes, and for a few moments fixed a piercing look
upon the vessel.

"No, sir," he replied; "I cannot tell what nation she belongs to, for
she shows no colours.  But I can declare she is a man-of-war, for a
long pennant flutters from her main mast."

For a quarter of an hour we watched the ship which was steaming towards
us.  I could not, however, believe that she could see the Nautilus from
that distance; and still less that she could know what this submarine
engine was.  Soon the Canadian informed me that she was a large,
armoured, two-decker ram.  A thick black smoke was pouring from her two
funnels.  Her closely-furled sails were stopped to her yards.  She
hoisted no flag at her mizzen-peak. The distance prevented us from
distinguishing the colours of her pennant, which floated like a thin
ribbon.  She advanced rapidly.  If Captain Nemo allowed her to
approach, there was a chance of salvation for us.

"Sir," said Ned Land, "if that vessel passes within a mile of us I
shall throw myself into the sea, and I should advise you to do the
same."

I did not reply to the Canadian's suggestion, but continued watching
the ship.  Whether English, French, American, or Russian, she would be
sure to take us in if we could only reach her.  Presently a white smoke
burst from the fore part of the vessel; some seconds after, the water,
agitated by the fall of a heavy body, splashed the stern of the
Nautilus, and shortly afterwards a loud explosion struck my ear.

"What! they are firing at us!"  I exclaimed.

"So please you, sir," said Ned, "they have recognised the unicorn, and
they are firing at us."

"But," I exclaimed, "surely they can see that there are men in the
case?"

"It is, perhaps, because of that," replied Ned Land, looking at me.

A whole flood of light burst upon my mind.  Doubtless they knew now how
to believe the stories of the pretended monster.  No doubt, on board
the Abraham Lincoln, when the Canadian struck it with the harpoon,
Commander Farragut had recognised in the supposed narwhal a submarine
vessel, more dangerous than a supernatural cetacean.  Yes, it must have
been so; and on every sea they were now seeking this engine of
destruction.  Terrible indeed! if, as we supposed, Captain Nemo
employed the Nautilus in works of vengeance.  On the night when we were
imprisoned in that cell, in the midst of the Indian Ocean, had he not
attacked some vessel?  The man buried in the coral cemetery, had he not
been a victim to the shock caused by the Nautilus?  Yes, I repeat it,
it must be so.  One part of the mysterious existence of Captain Nemo
had been unveiled; and, if his identity had not been recognised, at
least, the nations united against him were no longer hunting a
chimerical creature, but a man who had vowed a deadly hatred against
them.  All the formidable past rose before me.  Instead of meeting
friends on board the approaching ship, we could only expect pitiless
enemies.  But the shot rattled about us.  Some of them struck the sea
and ricochetted, losing themselves in the distance.  But none touched
the Nautilus.  The vessel was not more than three miles from us.  In
spite of the serious cannonade, Captain Nemo did not appear on the
platform; but, if one of the conical projectiles had struck the shell
of the Nautilus, it would have been fatal.  The Canadian then said,
"Sir, we must do all we can to get out of this dilemma.  Let us signal
them.  They will then, perhaps, understand that we are honest folks."

Ned Land took his handkerchief to wave in the air; but he had scarcely
displayed it, when he was struck down by an iron hand, and fell, in
spite of his great strength, upon the deck.

"Fool!" exclaimed the Captain, "do you wish to be pierced by the spur
of the Nautilus before it is hurled at this vessel?"

Captain Nemo was terrible to hear; he was still more terrible to see.
His face was deadly pale, with a spasm at his heart.  For an instant it
must have ceased to beat.  His pupils were fearfully contracted.  He
did not speak, he roared, as, with his body thrown forward, he wrung
the Canadian's shoulders.  Then, leaving him, and turning to the ship
of war, whose shot was still raining around him, he exclaimed, with a
powerful voice, "Ah, ship of an accursed nation, you know who I am!  I
do not want your colours to know you by!  Look! and I will show you
mine!"

And on the fore part of the platform Captain Nemo unfurled a black
flag, similar to the one he had placed at the South Pole.  At that
moment a shot struck the shell of the Nautilus obliquely, without
piercing it; and, rebounding near the Captain, was lost in the sea.  He
shrugged his shoulders; and, addressing me, said shortly, "Go down, you
and your companions, go down!"

"Sir," I cried, "are you going to attack this vessel?"

"Sir, I am going to sink it."

"You will not do that?"

"I shall do it," he replied coldly.  "And I advise you not to judge me,
sir.  Fate has shown you what you ought not to have seen.  The attack
has begun; go down."

"What is this vessel?"

"You do not know?  Very well! so much the better!  Its nationality to
you, at least, will be a secret.  Go down!"

We could but obey.  About fifteen of the sailors surrounded the
Captain, looking with implacable hatred at the vessel nearing them.
One could feel that the same desire of vengeance animated every soul.
I went down at the moment another projectile struck the Nautilus, and I
heard the Captain exclaim:

"Strike, mad vessel!  Shower your useless shot!  And then, you will not
escape the spur of the Nautilus.  But it is not here that you shall
perish!  I would not have your ruins mingle with those of the Avenger!"

I reached my room.  The Captain and his second had remained on the
platform.  The screw was set in motion, and the Nautilus, moving with
speed, was soon beyond the reach of the ship's guns.  But the pursuit
continued, and Captain Nemo contented himself with keeping his distance.

About four in the afternoon, being no longer able to contain my
impatience, I went to the central staircase.  The panel was open, and I
ventured on to the platform.  The Captain was still walking up and down
with an agitated step.  He was looking at the ship, which was five or
six miles to leeward.

He was going round it like a wild beast, and, drawing it eastward, he
allowed them to pursue.  But he did not attack.  Perhaps he still
hesitated?  I wished to mediate once more.  But I had scarcely spoken,
when Captain Nemo imposed silence, saying:

"I am the law, and I am the judge!  I am the oppressed, and there is
the oppressor!  Through him I have lost all that I loved, cherished,
and venerated--country, wife, children, father, and mother.  I saw all
perish!  All that I hate is there!  Say no more!"

I cast a last look at the man-of-war, which was putting on steam, and
rejoined Ned and Conseil.

"We will fly!"  I exclaimed.

"Good!" said Ned.  "What is this vessel?"

"I do not know; but, whatever it is, it will be sunk before night.  In
any case, it is better to perish with it, than be made accomplices in a
retaliation the justice of which we cannot judge."

"That is my opinion too," said Ned Land, coolly.  "Let us wait for
night."

Night arrived.  Deep silence reigned on board.  The compass showed that
the Nautilus had not altered its course.  It was on the surface,
rolling slightly.  My companions and I resolved to fly when the vessel
should be near enough either to hear us or to see us; for the moon,
which would be full in two or three days, shone brightly.  Once on
board the ship, if we could not prevent the blow which threatened it,
we could, at least we would, do all that circumstances would allow.
Several times I thought the Nautilus was preparing for attack; but
Captain Nemo contented himself with allowing his adversary to approach,
and then fled once more before it.

Part of the night passed without any incident.  We watched the
opportunity for action.  We spoke little, for we were too much moved.
Ned Land would have thrown himself into the sea, but I forced him to
wait.  According to my idea, the Nautilus would attack the ship at her
waterline, and then it would not only be possible, but easy to fly.

At three in the morning, full of uneasiness, I mounted the platform.
Captain Nemo had not left it.  He was standing at the fore part near
his flag, which a slight breeze displayed above his head.  He did not
take his eyes from the vessel.  The intensity of his look seemed to
attract, and fascinate, and draw it onward more surely than if he had
been towing it.  The moon was then passing the meridian.  Jupiter was
rising in the east.  Amid this peaceful scene of nature, sky and ocean
rivalled each other in tranquillity, the sea offering to the orbs of
night the finest mirror they could ever have in which to reflect their
image.  As I thought of the deep calm of these elements, compared with
all those passions brooding imperceptibly within the Nautilus, I
shuddered.

The vessel was within two miles of us.  It was ever nearing that
phosphorescent light which showed the presence of the Nautilus.  I
could see its green and red lights, and its white lantern hanging from
the large foremast.  An indistinct vibration quivered through its
rigging, showing that the furnaces were heated to the uttermost.
Sheaves of sparks and red ashes flew from the funnels, shining in the
atmosphere like stars.

I remained thus until six in the morning, without Captain Nemo noticing
me.  The ship stood about a mile and a half from us, and with the first
dawn of day the firing began afresh.  The moment could not be far off
when, the Nautilus attacking its adversary, my companions and myself
should for ever leave this man.  I was preparing to go down to remind
them, when the second mounted the platform, accompanied by several
sailors.  Captain Nemo either did not or would not see them.  Some
steps were taken which might be called the signal for action.  They
were very simple.  The iron balustrade around the platform was lowered,
and the lantern and pilot cages were pushed within the shell until they
were flush with the deck.  The long surface of the steel cigar no
longer offered a single point to check its manoeuvres.  I returned to
the saloon.  The Nautilus still floated; some streaks of light were
filtering through the liquid beds.  With the undulations of the waves
the windows were brightened by the red streaks of the rising sun, and
this dreadful day of the 2nd of June had dawned.

At five o'clock, the log showed that the speed of the Nautilus was
slackening, and I knew that it was allowing them to draw nearer.
Besides, the reports were heard more distinctly, and the projectiles,
labouring through the ambient water, were extinguished with a strange
hissing noise.

"My friends," said I, "the moment is come.  One grasp of the hand, and
may God protect us!"

Ned Land was resolute, Conseil calm, myself so nervous that I knew not
how to contain myself.  We all passed into the library; but the moment
I pushed the door opening on to the central staircase, I heard the
upper panel close sharply.  The Canadian rushed on to the stairs, but I
stopped him.  A well-known hissing noise told me that the water was
running into the reservoirs, and in a few minutes the Nautilus was some
yards beneath the surface of the waves.  I understood the manoeuvre.
It was too late to act.  The Nautilus did not wish to strike at the
impenetrable cuirass, but below the water-line, where the metallic
covering no longer protected it.

We were again imprisoned, unwilling witnesses of the dreadful drama
that was preparing.  We had scarcely time to reflect; taking refuge in
my room, we looked at each other without speaking.  A deep stupor had
taken hold of my mind:  thought seemed to stand still.  I was in that
painful state of expectation preceding a dreadful report.  I waited, I
listened, every sense was merged in that of hearing!  The speed of the
Nautilus was accelerated.  It was preparing to rush.  The whole ship
trembled.  Suddenly I screamed.  I felt the shock, but comparatively
light.  I felt the penetrating power of the steel spur.  I heard
rattlings and scrapings.  But the Nautilus, carried along by its
propelling power, passed through the mass of the vessel like a needle
through sailcloth!

I could stand it no longer.  Mad, out of my mind, I rushed from my room
into the saloon.  Captain Nemo was there, mute, gloomy, implacable; he
was looking through the port panel.  A large mass cast a shadow on the
water; and, that it might lose nothing of her agony, the Nautilus was
going down into the abyss with her.  Ten yards from me I saw the open
shell, through which the water was rushing with the noise of thunder,
then the double line of guns and the netting.  The bridge was covered
with black, agitated shadows.

The water was rising.  The poor creatures were crowding the ratlines,
clinging to the masts, struggling under the water.  It was a human
ant-heap overtaken by the sea.  Paralysed, stiffened with anguish, my
hair standing on end, with eyes wide open, panting, without breath, and
without voice, I too was watching!  An irresistible attraction glued me
to the glass!  Suddenly an explosion took place.  The compressed air
blew up her decks, as if the magazines had caught fire.  Then the
unfortunate vessel sank more rapidly.  Her topmast, laden with victims,
now appeared; then her spars, bending under the weight of men; and,
last of all, the top of her mainmast.  Then the dark mass disappeared,
and with it the dead crew, drawn down by the strong eddy.

I turned to Captain Nemo.  That terrible avenger, a perfect archangel
of hatred, was still looking.  When all was over, he turned to his
room, opened the door, and entered.  I followed him with my eyes.  On
the end wall beneath his heroes, I saw the portrait of a woman, still
young, and two little children.  Captain Nemo looked at them for some
moments, stretched his arms towards them, and, kneeling down, burst
into deep sobs.



CHAPTER XXII

THE LAST WORDS OF CAPTAIN NEMO

The panels had closed on this dreadful vision, but light had not
returned to the saloon:  all was silence and darkness within the
Nautilus.  At wonderful speed, a hundred feet beneath the water, it was
leaving this desolate spot.  Whither was it going?  To the north or
south?  Where was the man flying to after such dreadful retaliation?  I
had returned to my room, where Ned and Conseil had remained silent
enough.  I felt an insurmountable horror for Captain Nemo.  Whatever he
had suffered at the hands of these men, he had no right to punish thus.
He had made me, if not an accomplice, at least a witness of his
vengeance.  At eleven the electric light reappeared.  I passed into the
saloon.  It was deserted.  I consulted the different instruments.  The
Nautilus was flying northward at the rate of twenty-five miles an hour,
now on the surface, and now thirty feet below it.  On taking the
bearings by the chart, I saw that we were passing the mouth of the
Manche, and that our course was hurrying us towards the northern seas
at a frightful speed.  That night we had crossed two hundred leagues of
the Atlantic.  The shadows fell, and the sea was covered with darkness
until the rising of the moon.  I went to my room, but could not sleep.
I was troubled with dreadful nightmare.  The horrible scene of
destruction was continually before my eyes.  From that day, who could
tell into what part of the North Atlantic basin the Nautilus would take
us?  Still with unaccountable speed.  Still in the midst of these
northern fogs.  Would it touch at Spitzbergen, or on the shores of Nova
Zembla?  Should we explore those unknown seas, the White Sea, the Sea
of Kara, the Gulf of Obi, the Archipelago of Liarrov, and the unknown
coast of Asia?  I could not say.  I could no longer judge of the time
that was passing.  The clocks had been stopped on board.  It seemed, as
in polar countries, that night and day no longer followed their regular
course.  I felt myself being drawn into that strange region where the
foundered imagination of Edgar Poe roamed at will.  Like the fabulous
Gordon Pym, at every moment I expected to see "that veiled human
figure, of larger proportions than those of any inhabitant of the
earth, thrown across the cataract which defends the approach to the
pole." I estimated (though, perhaps, I may be mistaken)--I estimated
this adventurous course of the Nautilus to have lasted fifteen or
twenty days.  And I know not how much longer it might have lasted, had
it not been for the catastrophe which ended this voyage.  Of Captain
Nemo I saw nothing whatever now, nor of his second.  Not a man of the
crew was visible for an instant.  The Nautilus was almost incessantly
under water.  When we came to the surface to renew the air, the panels
opened and shut mechanically.  There were no more marks on the
planisphere.  I knew not where we were.  And the Canadian, too, his
strength and patience at an end, appeared no more.  Conseil could not
draw a word from him; and, fearing that, in a dreadful fit of madness,
he might kill himself, watched him with constant devotion.  One morning
(what date it was I could not say) I had fallen into a heavy sleep
towards the early hours, a sleep both painful and unhealthy, when I
suddenly awoke.  Ned Land was leaning over me, saying, in a low voice,
"We are going to fly."  I sat up.

"When shall we go?"  I asked.

"To-night. All inspection on board the Nautilus seems to have ceased.
All appear to be stupefied.  You will be ready, sir?"

"Yes; where are we?"

"In sight of land.  I took the reckoning this morning in the
fog--twenty miles to the east."

"What country is it?"

"I do not know; but, whatever it is, we will take refuge there."

"Yes, Ned, yes.  We will fly to-night, even if the sea should swallow
us up."

"The sea is bad, the wind violent, but twenty miles in that light boat
of the Nautilus does not frighten me.  Unknown to the crew, I have been
able to procure food and some bottles of water."

"I will follow you."

"But," continued the Canadian, "if I am surprised, I will defend
myself; I will force them to kill me."

"We will die together, friend Ned."

I had made up my mind to all.  The Canadian left me.  I reached the
platform, on which I could with difficulty support myself against the
shock of the waves.  The sky was threatening; but, as land was in those
thick brown shadows, we must fly.  I returned to the saloon, fearing
and yet hoping to see Captain Nemo, wishing and yet not wishing to see
him.  What could I have said to him?  Could I hide the involuntary
horror with which he inspired me?  No. It was better that I should not
meet him face to face; better to forget him.  And yet----  How long
seemed that day, the last that I should pass in the Nautilus.  I
remained alone.  Ned Land and Conseil avoided speaking, for fear of
betraying themselves.  At six I dined, but I was not hungry; I forced
myself to eat in spite of my disgust, that I might not weaken myself.
At half-past six Ned Land came to my room, saying, "We shall not see
each other again before our departure.  At ten the moon will not be
risen.  We will profit by the darkness.  Come to the boat; Conseil and
I will wait for you."

The Canadian went out without giving me time to answer.  Wishing to
verify the course of the Nautilus, I went to the saloon.  We were
running N.N.E. at frightful speed, and more than fifty yards deep.  I
cast a last look on these wonders of nature, on the riches of art
heaped up in this museum, upon the unrivalled collection destined to
perish at the bottom of the sea, with him who had formed it.  I wished
to fix an indelible impression of it in my mind.  I remained an hour
thus, bathed in the light of that luminous ceiling, and passing in
review those treasures shining under their glasses.  Then I returned to
my room.

I dressed myself in strong sea clothing.  I collected my notes, placing
them carefully about me.  My heart beat loudly.  I could not check its
pulsations.  Certainly my trouble and agitation would have betrayed me
to Captain Nemo's eyes.  What was he doing at this moment?  I listened
at the door of his room.  I heard steps.  Captain Nemo was there.  He
had not gone to rest.  At every moment I expected to see him appear,
and ask me why I wished to fly.  I was constantly on the alert.  My
imagination magnified everything.  The impression became at last so
poignant that I asked myself if it would not be better to go to the
Captain's room, see him face to face, and brave him with look and
gesture.

It was the inspiration of a madman; fortunately I resisted the desire,
and stretched myself on my bed to quiet my bodily agitation.  My nerves
were somewhat calmer, but in my excited brain I saw over again all my
existence on board the Nautilus; every incident, either happy or
unfortunate, which had happened since my disappearance from the Abraham
Lincoln--the submarine hunt, the Torres Straits, the savages of Papua,
the running ashore, the coral cemetery, the passage of Suez, the Island
of Santorin, the Cretan diver, Vigo Bay, Atlantis, the iceberg, the
South Pole, the imprisonment in the ice, the fight among the poulps,
the storm in the Gulf Stream, the Avenger, and the horrible scene of
the vessel sunk with all her crew.  All these events passed before my
eyes like scenes in a drama.  Then Captain Nemo seemed to grow
enormously, his features to assume superhuman proportions.  He was no
longer my equal, but a man of the waters, the genie of the sea.

It was then half-past nine.  I held my head between my hands to keep it
from bursting.  I closed my eyes; I would not think any longer.  There
was another half-hour to wait, another half-hour of a nightmare, which
might drive me mad.

At that moment I heard the distant strains of the organ, a sad harmony
to an undefinable chant, the wail of a soul longing to break these
earthly bonds.  I listened with every sense, scarcely breathing;
plunged, like Captain Nemo, in that musical ecstasy, which was drawing
him in spirit to the end of life.

Then a sudden thought terrified me.  Captain Nemo had left his room.
He was in the saloon, which I must cross to fly.  There I should meet
him for the last time.  He would see me, perhaps speak to me.  A
gesture of his might destroy me, a single word chain me on board.

But ten was about to strike.  The moment had come for me to leave my
room, and join my companions.

I must not hesitate, even if Captain Nemo himself should rise before
me.  I opened my door carefully; and even then, as it turned on its
hinges, it seemed to me to make a dreadful noise.  Perhaps it only
existed in my own imagination.

I crept along the dark stairs of the Nautilus, stopping at each step to
check the beating of my heart.  I reached the door of the saloon, and
opened it gently.  It was plunged in profound darkness.  The strains of
the organ sounded faintly.  Captain Nemo was there.  He did not see me.
In the full light I do not think he would have noticed me, so entirely
was he absorbed in the ecstasy.

I crept along the carpet, avoiding the slightest sound which might
betray my presence.  I was at least five minutes reaching the door, at
the opposite side, opening into the library.

I was going to open it, when a sigh from Captain Nemo nailed me to the
spot.  I knew that he was rising.  I could even see him, for the light
from the library came through to the saloon.  He came towards me
silently, with his arms crossed, gliding like a spectre rather than
walking.  His breast was swelling with sobs; and I heard him murmur
these words (the last which ever struck my ear):

"Almighty God! enough! enough!"

Was it a confession of remorse which thus escaped from this man's
conscience?

In desperation, I rushed through the library, mounted the central
staircase, and, following the upper flight, reached the boat.  I crept
through the opening, which had already admitted my two companions.

"Let us go! let us go!"  I exclaimed.

"Directly!" replied the Canadian.

The orifice in the plates of the Nautilus was first closed, and
fastened down by means of a false key, with which Ned Land had provided
himself; the opening in the boat was also closed.  The Canadian began
to loosen the bolts which still held us to the submarine boat.

Suddenly a noise was heard.  Voices were answering each other loudly.
What was the matter?  Had they discovered our flight?  I felt Ned Land
slipping a dagger into my hand.

"Yes," I murmured, "we know how to die!"

The Canadian had stopped in his work.  But one word many times
repeated, a dreadful word, revealed the cause of the agitation
spreading on board the Nautilus.  It was not we the crew were looking
after!

"The maelstrom! the maelstrom!"  Could a more dreadful word in a more
dreadful situation have sounded in our ears!  We were then upon the
dangerous coast of Norway.  Was the Nautilus being drawn into this gulf
at the moment our boat was going to leave its sides?  We knew that at
the tide the pent-up waters between the islands of Ferroe and Loffoden
rush with irresistible violence, forming a whirlpool from which no
vessel ever escapes.  From every point of the horizon enormous waves
were meeting, forming a gulf justly called the "Navel of the Ocean,"
whose power of attraction extends to a distance of twelve miles.
There, not only vessels, but whales are sacrificed, as well as white
bears from the northern regions.

It is thither that the Nautilus, voluntarily or involuntarily, had been
run by the Captain.

It was describing a spiral, the circumference of which was lessening by
degrees, and the boat, which was still fastened to its side, was
carried along with giddy speed.  I felt that sickly giddiness which
arises from long-continued whirling round.

We were in dread.  Our horror was at its height, circulation had
stopped, all nervous influence was annihilated, and we were covered
with cold sweat, like a sweat of agony!  And what noise around our
frail bark!  What roarings repeated by the echo miles away!  What an
uproar was that of the waters broken on the sharp rocks at the bottom,
where the hardest bodies are crushed, and trees worn away, "with all
the fur rubbed off," according to the Norwegian phrase!

What a situation to be in!  We rocked frightfully.  The Nautilus
defended itself like a human being.  Its steel muscles cracked.
Sometimes it seemed to stand upright, and we with it!

"We must hold on," said Ned, "and look after the bolts.  We may still
be saved if we stick to the Nautilus."

He had not finished the words, when we heard a crashing noise, the
bolts gave way, and the boat, torn from its groove, was hurled like a
stone from a sling into the midst of the whirlpool.

My head struck on a piece of iron, and with the violent shock I lost
all consciousness.



CHAPTER XXIII

CONCLUSION

Thus ends the voyage under the seas.  What passed during that
night--how the boat escaped from the eddies of the maelstrom--how Ned
Land, Conseil, and myself ever came out of the gulf, I cannot tell.

But when I returned to consciousness, I was lying in a fisherman's hut,
on the Loffoden Isles.  My two companions, safe and sound, were near me
holding my hands.  We embraced each other heartily.

At that moment we could not think of returning to France.  The means of
communication between the north of Norway and the south are rare.  And
I am therefore obliged to wait for the steamboat running monthly from
Cape North.

And, among the worthy people who have so kindly received us, I revise
my record of these adventures once more.  Not a fact has been omitted,
not a detail exaggerated.  It is a faithful narrative of this
incredible expedition in an element inaccessible to man, but to which
Progress will one day open a road.

Shall I be believed?  I do not know.  And it matters little, after all.
What I now affirm is, that I have a right to speak of these seas, under
which, in less than ten months, I have crossed 20,000 leagues in that
submarine tour of the world, which has revealed so many wonders.

But what has become of the Nautilus?  Did it resist the pressure of the
maelstrom?  Does Captain Nemo still live?  And does he still follow
under the ocean those frightful retaliations?  Or, did he stop after
the last hecatomb?

Will the waves one day carry to him this manuscript containing the
history of his life?  Shall I ever know the name of this man?  Will the
missing vessel tell us by its nationality that of Captain Nemo?

I hope so.  And I also hope that his powerful vessel has conquered the
sea at its most terrible gulf, and that the Nautilus has survived where
so many other vessels have been lost!  If it be so--if Captain Nemo
still inhabits the ocean, his adopted country, may hatred be appeased
in that savage heart!  May the contemplation of so many wonders
extinguish for ever the spirit of vengeance!  May the judge disappear,
and the philosopher continue the peaceful exploration of the sea!  If
his destiny be strange, it is also sublime.  Have I not understood it
myself?  Have I not lived ten months of this unnatural life?  And to
the question asked by Ecclesiastes three thousand years ago, "That
which is far off and exceeding deep, who can find it out?" two men
alone of all now living have the right to give an answer----

CAPTAIN NEMO AND MYSELF.





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