CHAPTER 16: Strolling the Plains
THIS CELL, properly speaking, was the Nautilus's arsenal and wardrobe.
Hanging from its walls, a dozen diving outfits were waiting for
anybody who wanted to take a stroll.
After seeing these, Ned Land exhibited an obvious distaste for the idea
of putting one on.
"But my gallant Ned," I told him, "the forests of Crespo Island
are simply underwater forests!"
"Oh great!" put in the disappointed harpooner, watching his dreams
of fresh meat fade away. "And you, Professor Aronnax, are you
going to stick yourself inside these clothes?"
"It has to be, Mr. Ned."
"Have it your way, sir," the harpooner replied, shrugging his shoulders.
"But speaking for myself, I'll never get into those things unless
they force me!"
"No one will force you, Mr. Land," Captain Nemo said.
"And is Conseil going to risk it?" Ned asked.
"Where master goes, I go," Conseil replied.
At the captain's summons, two crewmen came to help us put
on these heavy, waterproof clothes, made from seamless india
rubber and expressly designed to bear considerable pressures.
They were like suits of armor that were both yielding and resistant,
you might say. These clothes consisted of jacket and pants.
The pants ended in bulky footwear adorned with heavy lead soles.
The fabric of the jacket was reinforced with copper mail that shielded
the chest, protected it from the water's pressure, and allowed
the lungs to function freely; the sleeves ended in supple gloves
that didn't impede hand movements.
These perfected diving suits, it was easy to see, were a far cry from
such misshapen costumes as the cork breastplates, leather jumpers,
seagoing tunics, barrel helmets, etc., invented and acclaimed
in the 18th century.
Conseil and I were soon dressed in these diving suits, as were
Captain Nemo and one of his companions--a herculean type who must
have been prodigiously strong. All that remained was to encase one's
head in its metal sphere. But before proceeding with this operation,
I asked the captain for permission to examine the rifles set
aside for us.