CHAPTER 9: A Lost Continent
No more shore in sight. Nothing but the immenseness of the sea.
A few sails were on the horizon, no doubt ships going as far
as Cape São Roque to find favorable winds for doubling the Cape
of Good Hope. The sky was overcast. A squall was on the way.
Furious, Ned tried to see through the mists on the horizon.
He still hoped that behind all that fog there lay those shores
he longed for.
At noon the sun made a momentary appearance. Taking advantage of this
rift in the clouds, the chief officer took the orb's altitude.
Then the sea grew turbulent, we went below again, and the hatch
closed once more.
When I consulted the chart an hour later, I saw that the Nautilus's
position was marked at longitude 16 degrees 17' and latitude
33 degrees 22', a good 150 leagues from the nearest coast.
It wouldn't do to even dream of escaping, and I'll let the reader
decide how promptly the Canadian threw a tantrum when I ventured
to tell him our situation.
As for me, I wasn't exactly grief-stricken. I felt as if a heavy
weight had been lifted from me, and I was able to resume my regular
tasks in a state of comparative calm.
Near eleven o'clock in the evening, I received a most unexpected
visit from Captain Nemo. He asked me very graciously if I felt
exhausted from our vigil the night before. I said no.
"Then, Professor Aronnax, I propose an unusual excursion."
"Propose away, captain."
"So far you've visited the ocean depths only by day and under sunlight.
Would you like to see these depths on a dark night?"
"I warn you, this will be an exhausting stroll. We'll need to walk
long hours and scale a mountain. The roads aren't terribly
well kept up."