CHAPTER 17: From Cape Horn to the Amazon
HOW I GOT ONTO the platform I'm unable to say.
Perhaps the Canadian transferred me there. But I could breathe,
I could inhale the life-giving sea air. Next to me my two
companions were getting tipsy on the fresh oxygen particles.
Poor souls who have suffered from long starvation mustn't pounce
heedlessly on the first food given them. We, on the other hand,
didn't have to practice such moderation: we could suck the atoms
from the air by the lungful, and it was the breeze, the breeze itself,
that poured into us this luxurious intoxication!
"Ahhh!" Conseil was putting in. "What fine oxygen! Let master
have no fears about breathing. There's enough for everyone."
As for Ned Land, he didn't say a word, but his wide-open jaws
would have scared off a shark. And what powerful inhalations!
The Canadian "drew" like a furnace going full blast.
Our strength returned promptly, and when I looked around,
I saw that we were alone on the platform. No crewmen.
Not even Captain Nemo. Those strange seamen on the Nautilus
were content with the oxygen circulating inside. Not one of them
had come up to enjoy the open air.
The first words I pronounced were words of appreciation
and gratitude to my two companions. Ned and Conseil had kept
me alive during the final hours of our long death throes.
But no expression of thanks could repay them fully for such devotion.
"Good lord, professor," Ned Land answered me, "don't mention it!
What did we do that's so praiseworthy? Not a thing. It was a
question of simple arithmetic. Your life is worth more than ours.
So we had to save it."
"No, Ned," I replied, "it isn't worth more. Nobody could be better
than a kind and generous man like yourself!"
"All right, all right!" the Canadian repeated in embarrassment.
"And you, my gallant Conseil, you suffered a great deal."