Part 1: Chapters 7 & 8

Chapter 7

A Whale of Unknown Species

ALTHOUGH I WAS startled by this unexpected descent, I at least have a very clear recollection of my sensations during it.

At first I was dragged about twenty feet under. I’m a good swimmer, without claiming to equal such other authors as Byron and Edgar Allan Poe, who were master divers, and I didn’t lose my head on the way down. With two vigorous kicks of the heel, I came back to the surface of the sea.

My first concern was to look for the frigate. Had the crew seen me go overboard? Was the Abraham Lincoln tacking about? Would Commander Farragut put a longboat to sea? Could I hope to be rescued?

The gloom was profound. I glimpsed a black mass disappearing eastward, where its running lights were fading out in the distance. It was the frigate. I felt I was done for.

“Help! Help!” I shouted, swimming desperately toward the Abraham Lincoln.

My clothes were weighing me down. The water glued them to my body, they were paralyzing my movements. I was sinking! I was suffocating . . . !

“Help!”

This was the last shout I gave. My mouth was filling with water. I struggled against being dragged into the depths. . . .

Suddenly my clothes were seized by energetic hands, I felt myself pulled abruptly back to the surface of the sea, and yes, I heard these words pronounced in my ear:

“If master would oblige me by leaning on my shoulder, master will swim with much greater ease.”

With one hand I seized the arm of my loyal Conseil.

“You!” I said. “You!”

“Myself,” Conseil replied, “and at master’s command.”

“That collision threw you overboard along with me?”

“Not at all. But being in master’s employ, I followed master.”

The fine lad thought this only natural!

“What about the frigate?” I asked.

“The frigate?” Conseil replied, rolling over on his back. “I think master had best not depend on it to any great extent!”

“What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that just as I jumped overboard, I heard the men at the helm shout, ‘Our propeller and rudder are smashed!’ ”

“Smashed?”

“Yes, smashed by the monster’s tusk! I believe it’s the sole injury the Abraham Lincoln has sustained. But most inconveniently for us, the ship can no longer steer.”

“Then we’re done for!”

“Perhaps,” Conseil replied serenely. “However, we still have a few hours before us, and in a few hours one can do a great many things!”

Conseil’s unflappable composure cheered me up. I swam more vigorously, but hampered by clothes that were as restricting as a cloak made of lead, I was managing with only the greatest difficulty. Conseil noticed as much.

“Master will allow me to make an incision,” he said.

And he slipped an open clasp knife under my clothes, slitting them from top to bottom with one swift stroke. Then he briskly undressed me while I swam for us both.

I then did Conseil the same favor, and we continued to “navigate” side by side.

But our circumstances were no less dreadful. Perhaps they hadn’t seen us go overboard; and even if they had, the frigate—being undone by its rudder—couldn’t return to leeward after us. So we could count only on its longboats.

Conseil had coolly reasoned out this hypothesis and laid his plans accordingly. An amazing character, this boy; in midocean, this stoic lad seemed right at home!

So, having concluded that our sole chance for salvation lay in being picked up by the Abraham Lincoln’s longboats, we had to take steps to wait for them as long as possible. Consequently, I decided to divide our energies so we wouldn’t both be worn out at the same time, and this was the arrangement: while one of us lay on his back, staying motionless with arms crossed and legs outstretched, the other would swim and propel his partner forward. This towing role was to last no longer than ten minutes, and by relieving each other in this way, we could stay afloat for hours, perhaps even until daybreak.

Slim chance, but hope springs eternal in the human breast! Besides, there were two of us. Lastly, I can vouch—as improbable as it seems—that even if I had wanted to destroy all my illusions, even if I had been willing to “give in to despair,” I could not have done so!

The cetacean had rammed our frigate at about eleven o’clock in the evening. I therefore calculated on eight hours of swimming until sunrise. A strenuous task, but feasible, thanks to our relieving each other. The sea was pretty smooth and barely tired us. Sometimes I tried to peer through the dense gloom, which was broken only by the phosphorescent flickers coming from our movements. I stared at the luminous ripples breaking over my hands, shimmering sheets spattered with blotches of bluish gray. It seemed as if we’d plunged into a pool of quicksilver.

Near one o’clock in the morning, I was overcome with tremendous exhaustion. My limbs stiffened in the grip of intense cramps. Conseil had to keep me going, and attending to our self–preservation became his sole responsibility. I soon heard the poor lad gasping; his breathing became shallow and quick. I didn’t think he could stand such exertions for much longer.

“Go on! Go on!” I told him.

“Leave master behind?” he replied. “Never! I’ll drown before he does!”

Just then, past the fringes of a large cloud that the wind was driving eastward, the moon appeared. The surface of the sea glistened under its rays. That kindly light rekindled our strength. I held up my head again. My eyes darted to every point of the horizon. I spotted the frigate. It was five miles from us and formed no more than a dark, barely perceptible mass. But as for longboats, not a one in sight!

I tried to call out. What was the use at such a distance! My swollen lips wouldn’t let a single sound through. Conseil could still articulate a few words, and I heard him repeat at intervals:

“Help! Help!”

Ceasing all movement for an instant, we listened. And it may have been a ringing in my ear, from this organ filling with impeded blood, but it seemed to me that Conseil’s shout had received an answer back.

“Did you hear that?” I muttered.

“Yes, yes!”

And Conseil hurled another desperate plea into space.

This time there could be no mistake! A human voice had answered us! Was it the voice of some poor devil left behind in midocean, some other victim of that collision suffered by our ship? Or was it one of the frigate’s longboats, hailing us out of the gloom?

Conseil made one final effort, and bracing his hands on my shoulders, while I offered resistance with one supreme exertion, he raised himself half out of the water, then fell back exhausted.

“What did you see?”

“I saw . . . ,” he muttered, “I saw . . . but we mustn’t talk . . . save our strength . . . !”

What had he seen? Then, lord knows why, the thought of the monster came into my head for the first time . . . ! But even so, that voice . . . ? Gone are the days when Jonahs took refuge in the bellies of whales!

Nevertheless, Conseil kept towing me. Sometimes he looked up, stared straight ahead, and shouted a request for directions, which was answered by a voice that was getting closer and closer. I could barely hear it. I was at the end of my strength; my fingers gave out; my hands were no help to me; my mouth opened convulsively, filling with brine; its coldness ran through me; I raised my head one last time, then I collapsed. . . .

Just then something hard banged against me. I clung to it. Then I felt myself being pulled upward, back to the surface of the water; my chest caved in, and I fainted. . . .

For certain, I came to quickly, because someone was massaging me so vigorously it left furrows in my flesh. I half opened my eyes. . . .

“Conseil!” I muttered.

“Did master ring for me?” Conseil replied.

Just then, in the last light of a moon settling on the horizon, I spotted a face that wasn’t Conseil’s but which I recognized at once.

“Ned!” I exclaimed.

“In person, sir, and still after his prize!” the Canadian replied.

“You were thrown overboard after the frigate’s collision?”

“Yes, professor, but I was luckier than you, and right away I was able to set foot on this floating islet.”

“Islet?”

“Or in other words, on our gigantic narwhale.”

“Explain yourself, Ned.”

“It’s just that I soon realized why my harpoon got blunted and couldn’t puncture its hide.”

“Why, Ned, why?”

“Because, professor, this beast is made of boilerplate steel!”

At this point in my story, I need to get a grip on myself, reconstruct exactly what I experienced, and make doubly sure of everything I write.

The Canadian’s last words caused a sudden upheaval in my brain. I swiftly hoisted myself to the summit of this half–submerged creature or object that was serving as our refuge. I tested it with my foot. Obviously it was some hard, impenetrable substance, not the soft matter that makes up the bodies of our big marine mammals.

But this hard substance could have been a bony carapace, like those that covered some prehistoric animals, and I might have left it at that and classified this monster among such amphibious reptiles as turtles or alligators.

Well, no. The blackish back supporting me was smooth and polished with no overlapping scales. On impact, it gave off a metallic sonority, and as incredible as this sounds, it seemed, I swear, to be made of riveted plates.

No doubts were possible! This animal, this monster, this natural phenomenon that had puzzled the whole scientific world, that had muddled and misled the minds of seamen in both hemispheres, was, there could be no escaping it, an even more astonishing phenomenon—a phenomenon made by the hand of man.

Even if I had discovered that some fabulous, mythological creature really existed, it wouldn’t have given me such a terrific mental jolt. It’s easy enough to accept that prodigious things can come from our Creator. But to find, all at once, right before your eyes, that the impossible had been mysteriously achieved by man himself: this staggers the mind!

But there was no question now. We were stretched out on the back of some kind of underwater boat that, as far as I could judge, boasted the shape of an immense steel fish. Ned Land had clear views on the issue. Conseil and I could only line up behind him.

“But then,” I said, “does this contraption contain some sort of locomotive mechanism, and a crew to run it?”

“Apparently,” the harpooner replied. “And yet for the three hours I’ve lived on this floating island, it hasn’t shown a sign of life.”

“This boat hasn’t moved at all?”

“No, Professor Aronnax. It just rides with the waves, but otherwise it hasn’t stirred.”

“But we know that it’s certainly gifted with great speed. Now then, since an engine is needed to generate that speed, and a mechanic to run that engine, I conclude: we’re saved.”

“Humph!” Ned Land put in, his tone denoting reservations.

Just then, as if to take my side in the argument, a bubbling began astern of this strange submersible—whose drive mechanism was obviously a propeller—and the boat started to move. We barely had time to hang on to its topside, which emerged about eighty centimeters above water. Fortunately its speed was not excessive.

“So long as it navigates horizontally,” Ned Land muttered, “I’ve no complaints. But if it gets the urge to dive, I wouldn’t give $2.00 for my hide!”

The Canadian might have quoted a much lower price. So it was imperative to make contact with whatever beings were confined inside the plating of this machine. I searched its surface for an opening or a hatch, a “manhole,” to use the official term; but the lines of rivets had been firmly driven into the sheet–iron joins and were straight and uniform.

Moreover, the moon then disappeared and left us in profound darkness. We had to wait for daylight to find some way of getting inside this underwater boat.

So our salvation lay totally in the hands of the mysterious helmsmen steering this submersible, and if it made a dive, we were done for! But aside from this occurring, I didn’t doubt the possibility of our making contact with them. In fact, if they didn’t produce their own air, they inevitably had to make periodic visits to the surface of the ocean to replenish their oxygen supply. Hence the need for some opening that put the boat’s interior in contact with the atmosphere.

As for any hope of being rescued by Commander Farragut, that had to be renounced completely. We were being swept westward, and I estimate that our comparatively moderate speed reached twelve miles per hour. The propeller churned the waves with mathematical regularity, sometimes emerging above the surface and throwing phosphorescent spray to great heights.

Near four o’clock in the morning, the submersible picked up speed. We could barely cope with this dizzying rush, and the waves battered us at close range. Fortunately Ned’s hands came across a big mooring ring fastened to the topside of this sheet–iron back, and we all held on for dear life.

Finally this long night was over. My imperfect memories won’t let me recall my every impression of it. A single detail comes back to me. Several times, during various lulls of wind and sea, I thought I heard indistinct sounds, a sort of elusive harmony produced by distant musical chords. What was the secret behind this underwater navigating, whose explanation the whole world had sought in vain? What beings lived inside this strange boat? What mechanical force allowed it to move about with such prodigious speed?

Daylight appeared. The morning mists surrounded us, but they soon broke up. I was about to proceed with a careful examination of the hull, whose topside formed a sort of horizontal platform, when I felt it sinking little by little.

“Oh, damnation!” Ned Land shouted, stamping his foot on the resonant sheet iron. “Open up there, you antisocial navigators!”

But it was difficult to make yourself heard above the deafening beats of the propeller. Fortunately this submerging movement stopped.

From inside the boat, there suddenly came noises of iron fastenings pushed roughly aside. One of the steel plates flew up, a man appeared, gave a bizarre yell, and instantly disappeared.

A few moments later, eight strapping fellows appeared silently, their faces like masks, and dragged us down into their fearsome machine.

Chapter 8

“Mobilis in Mobili”

THIS BRUTALLY EXECUTED capture was carried out with lightning speed. My companions and I had no time to collect ourselves. I don’t know how they felt about being shoved inside this aquatic prison, but as for me, I was shivering all over. With whom were we dealing? Surely with some new breed of pirates, exploiting the sea after their own fashion.

The narrow hatch had barely closed over me when I was surrounded by profound darkness. Saturated with the outside light, my eyes couldn’t make out a thing. I felt my naked feet clinging to the steps of an iron ladder. Forcibly seized, Ned Land and Conseil were behind me. At the foot of the ladder, a door opened and instantly closed behind us with a loud clang.

We were alone. Where? I couldn’t say, could barely even imagine. All was darkness, but such utter darkness that after several minutes, my eyes were still unable to catch a single one of those hazy gleams that drift through even the blackest nights.

Meanwhile, furious at these goings on, Ned Land gave free rein to his indignation.

“Damnation!” he exclaimed. “These people are about as hospitable as the savages of New Caledonia! All that’s lacking is for them to be cannibals! I wouldn’t be surprised if they were, but believe you me, they won’t eat me without my kicking up a protest!”

“Calm yourself, Ned my friend,” Conseil replied serenely. “Don’t flare up so quickly! We aren’t in a kettle yet!”

“In a kettle, no,” the Canadian shot back, “but in an oven for sure. It’s dark enough for one. Luckily my Bowie knife hasn’t left me, and I can still see well enough to put it to use.* The first one of these bandits who lays a hand on me—”

*Author’s Note: A Bowie knife is a wide–bladed dagger that Americans are forever carrying around.

“Don’t be so irritable, Ned,” I then told the harpooner, “and don’t ruin things for us with pointless violence. Who knows whether they might be listening to us? Instead, let’s try to find out where we are!”

I started moving, groping my way. After five steps I encountered an iron wall made of riveted boilerplate. Then, turning around, I bumped into a wooden table next to which several stools had been set. The floor of this prison lay hidden beneath thick, hempen matting that deadened the sound of footsteps. Its naked walls didn’t reveal any trace of a door or window. Going around the opposite way, Conseil met up with me, and we returned to the middle of this cabin, which had to be twenty feet long by ten wide. As for its height, not even Ned Land, with his great stature, was able to determine it.

Half an hour had already gone by without our situation changing, when our eyes were suddenly spirited from utter darkness into blinding light. Our prison lit up all at once; in other words, it filled with luminescent matter so intense that at first I couldn’t stand the brightness of it. From its glare and whiteness, I recognized the electric glow that had played around this underwater boat like some magnificent phosphorescent phenomenon. After involuntarily closing my eyes, I reopened them and saw that this luminous force came from a frosted half globe curving out of the cabin’s ceiling.

“Finally! It’s light enough to see!” Ned Land exclaimed, knife in hand, staying on the defensive.

“Yes,” I replied, then ventured the opposite view. “But as for our situation, we’re still in the dark.”

“Master must learn patience,” said the emotionless Conseil.

This sudden illumination of our cabin enabled me to examine its tiniest details. It contained only a table and five stools. Its invisible door must have been hermetically sealed. Not a sound reached our ears. Everything seemed dead inside this boat. Was it in motion, or stationary on the surface of the ocean, or sinking into the depths? I couldn’t tell.

But this luminous globe hadn’t been turned on without good reason. Consequently, I hoped that some crewmen would soon make an appearance. If you want to consign people to oblivion, you don’t light up their dungeons.

I was not mistaken. Unlocking noises became audible, a door opened, and two men appeared.

One was short and stocky, powerfully muscled, broad shouldered, robust of limbs, the head squat, the hair black and luxuriant, the mustache heavy, the eyes bright and penetrating, and his whole personality stamped with that southern–blooded zest that, in France, typifies the people of Provence. The philosopher Diderot has very aptly claimed that a man’s bearing is the clue to his character, and this stocky little man was certainly a living proof of this claim. You could sense that his everyday conversation must have been packed with such vivid figures of speech as personification, symbolism, and misplaced modifiers. But I was never in a position to verify this because, around me, he used only an odd and utterly incomprehensible dialect.

The second stranger deserves a more detailed description. A disciple of such character–judging anatomists as Gratiolet or Engel could have read this man’s features like an open book. Without hesitation, I identified his dominant qualities—self–confidence, since his head reared like a nobleman’s above the arc formed by the lines of his shoulders, and his black eyes gazed with icy assurance; calmness, since his skin, pale rather than ruddy, indicated tranquility of blood; energy, shown by the swiftly knitting muscles of his brow; and finally courage, since his deep breathing denoted tremendous reserves of vitality.

I might add that this was a man of great pride, that his calm, firm gaze seemed to reflect thinking on an elevated plane, and that the harmony of his facial expressions and bodily movements resulted in an overall effect of unquestionable candor—according to the findings of physiognomists, those analysts of facial character.

I felt “involuntarily reassured” in his presence, and this boded well for our interview.

Whether this individual was thirty–five or fifty years of age, I could not precisely state. He was tall, his forehead broad, his nose straight, his mouth clearly etched, his teeth magnificent, his hands refined, tapered, and to use a word from palmistry, highly “psychic,” in other words, worthy of serving a lofty and passionate spirit. This man was certainly the most wonderful physical specimen I had ever encountered. One unusual detail: his eyes were spaced a little far from each other and could instantly take in nearly a quarter of the horizon. This ability—as I later verified—was strengthened by a range of vision even greater than Ned Land’s. When this stranger focused his gaze on an object, his eyebrow lines gathered into a frown, his heavy eyelids closed around his pupils to contract his huge field of vision, and he looked! What a look—as if he could magnify objects shrinking into the distance; as if he could probe your very soul; as if he could pierce those sheets of water so opaque to our eyes and scan the deepest seas . . . !

Wearing caps made of sea–otter fur, and shod in sealskin fishing boots, these two strangers were dressed in clothing made from some unique fabric that flattered the figure and allowed great freedom of movement.

The taller of the two—apparently the leader on board—examined us with the greatest care but without pronouncing a word. Then, turning to his companion, he conversed with him in a language I didn’t recognize. It was a sonorous, harmonious, flexible dialect whose vowels seemed to undergo a highly varied accentuation.

The other replied with a shake of the head and added two or three utterly incomprehensible words. Then he seemed to question me directly with a long stare.

I replied in clear French that I wasn’t familiar with his language; but he didn’t seem to understand me, and the situation grew rather baffling.

“Still, master should tell our story,” Conseil said to me. “Perhaps these gentlemen will grasp a few words of it!”

I tried again, telling the tale of our adventures, clearly articulating my every syllable, and not leaving out a single detail. I stated our names and titles; then, in order, I introduced Professor Aronnax, his manservant Conseil, and Mr. Ned Land, harpooner.

The man with calm, gentle eyes listened to me serenely, even courteously, and paid remarkable attention. But nothing in his facial expression indicated that he understood my story. When I finished, he didn’t pronounce a single word.

One resource still left was to speak English. Perhaps they would be familiar with this nearly universal language. But I only knew it, as I did the German language, well enough to read it fluently, not well enough to speak it correctly. Here, however, our overriding need was to make ourselves understood.

“Come on, it’s your turn,” I told the harpooner. “Over to you, Mr. Land. Pull out of your bag of tricks the best English ever spoken by an Anglo–Saxon, and try for a more favorable result than mine.”

Ned needed no persuading and started our story all over again, most of which I could follow. Its content was the same, but the form differed. Carried away by his volatile temperament, the Canadian put great animation into it. He complained vehemently about being imprisoned in defiance of his civil rights, asked by virtue of which law he was hereby detained, invoked writs of habeas corpus, threatened to press charges against anyone holding him in illegal custody, ranted, gesticulated, shouted, and finally conveyed by an expressive gesture that we were dying of hunger.

This was perfectly true, but we had nearly forgotten the fact.

Much to his amazement, the harpooner seemed no more intelligible than I had been. Our visitors didn’t bat an eye. Apparently they were engineers who understood the languages of neither the French physicist Arago nor the English physicist Faraday.

Thoroughly baffled after vainly exhausting our philological resources, I no longer knew what tactic to pursue, when Conseil told me:

“If master will authorize me, I’ll tell the whole business in German.”

“What! You know German?” I exclaimed.

“Like most Flemish people, with all due respect to master.”

“On the contrary, my respect is due you. Go to it, my boy.”

And Conseil, in his serene voice, described for the third time the various vicissitudes of our story. But despite our narrator’s fine accent and stylish turns of phrase, the German language met with no success.

Finally, as a last resort, I hauled out everything I could remember from my early schooldays, and I tried to narrate our adventures in Latin. Cicero would have plugged his ears and sent me to the scullery, but somehow I managed to pull through. With the same negative result.

This last attempt ultimately misfiring, the two strangers exchanged a few words in their incomprehensible language and withdrew, not even favoring us with one of those encouraging gestures that are used in every country in the world. The door closed again.

“This is outrageous!” Ned Land shouted, exploding for the twentieth time. “I ask you! We speak French, English, German, and Latin to these rogues, and neither of them has the decency to even answer back!”

“Calm down, Ned,” I told the seething harpooner. “Anger won’t get us anywhere.”

“But professor,” our irascible companion went on, “can’t you see that we could die of hunger in this iron cage?”

“Bah!” Conseil put in philosophically. “We can hold out a good while yet!”

“My friends,” I said, “we mustn’t despair. We’ve gotten out of tighter spots. So please do me the favor of waiting a bit before you form your views on the commander and crew of this boat.”

“My views are fully formed,” Ned Land shot back. “They’re rogues!”

“Oh good! And from what country?”

“Roguedom!”

“My gallant Ned, as yet that country isn’t clearly marked on maps of the world, but I admit that the nationality of these two strangers is hard to make out! Neither English, French, nor German, that’s all we can say. But I’m tempted to think that the commander and his chief officer were born in the low latitudes. There must be southern blood in them. But as to whether they’re Spaniards, Turks, Arabs, or East Indians, their physical characteristics don’t give me enough to go on. And as for their speech, it’s utterly incomprehensible.”

“That’s the nuisance in not knowing every language,” Conseil replied, “or the drawback in not having one universal language!”

“Which would all go out the window!” Ned Land replied. “Don’t you see, these people have a language all to themselves, a language they’ve invented just to cause despair in decent people who ask for a little dinner! Why, in every country on earth, when you open your mouth, snap your jaws, smack your lips and teeth, isn’t that the world’s most understandable message? From Quebec to the Tuamotu Islands, from Paris to the Antipodes, doesn’t it mean: I’m hungry, give me a bite to eat!”

“Oh,” Conseil put in, “there are some people so unintelligent by nature . . .”

As he was saying these words, the door opened. A steward entered.* He brought us some clothes, jackets and sailor’s pants, made out of a fabric whose nature I didn’t recognize. I hurried to change into them, and my companions followed suit.

*Author’s Note: A steward is a waiter on board a steamer.

Meanwhile our silent steward, perhaps a deaf–mute, set the table and laid three place settings.

“There’s something serious afoot,” Conseil said, “and it bodes well.”

“Bah!” replied the rancorous harpooner. “What the devil do you suppose they eat around here? Turtle livers, loin of shark, dogfish steaks?”

“We’ll soon find out!” Conseil said.

Overlaid with silver dish covers, various platters had been neatly positioned on the table cloth, and we sat down to eat. Assuredly, we were dealing with civilized people, and if it hadn’t been for this electric light flooding over us, I would have thought we were in the dining room of the Hotel Adelphi in Liverpool, or the Grand Hotel in Paris. However, I feel compelled to mention that bread and wine were totally absent. The water was fresh and clear, but it was still water—which wasn’t what Ned Land had in mind. Among the foods we were served, I was able to identify various daintily dressed fish; but I couldn’t make up my mind about certain otherwise excellent dishes, and I couldn’t even tell whether their contents belonged to the vegetable or the animal kingdom. As for the tableware, it was elegant and in perfect taste. Each utensil, spoon, fork, knife, and plate, bore on its reverse a letter encircled by a Latin motto, and here is its exact duplicate:

MOBILIS IN MOBILI

N

Moving within the moving element! It was a highly appropriate motto for this underwater machine, so long as the preposition in is translated as within and not upon. The letter “N” was no doubt the initial of the name of that mystifying individual in command beneath the seas!

Ned and Conseil had no time for such musings. They were wolfing down their food, and without further ado I did the same. By now I felt reassured about our fate, and it seemed obvious that our hosts didn’t intend to let us die of starvation.

But all earthly things come to an end, all things must pass, even the hunger of people who haven’t eaten for fifteen hours. Our appetites appeased, we felt an urgent need for sleep. A natural reaction after that interminable night of fighting for our lives.

“Ye gods, I’ll sleep soundly,” Conseil said.

“Me, I’m out like a light!” Ned Land replied.

My two companions lay down on the cabin’s carpeting and were soon deep in slumber.

As for me, I gave in less readily to this intense need for sleep. Too many thoughts had piled up in my mind, too many insoluble questions had arisen, too many images were keeping my eyelids open! Where were we? What strange power was carrying us along? I felt—or at least I thought I did—the submersible sinking toward the sea’s lower strata. Intense nightmares besieged me. In these mysterious marine sanctuaries, I envisioned hosts of unknown animals, and this underwater boat seemed to be a blood relation of theirs: living, breathing, just as fearsome . . . ! Then my mind grew calmer, my imagination melted into hazy drowsiness, and I soon fell into an uneasy slumber.

Chapter List