CHAPTER 22: The Last Words of Captain Nemo
THE PANELS CLOSED over this frightful view, but the lights didn't go
on in the lounge. Inside the Nautilus all was gloom and silence.
It left this place of devastation with prodigious speed,
100 feet beneath the waters. Where was it going? North or south?
Where would the man flee after this horrible act of revenge?
I reentered my stateroom, where Ned and Conseil were waiting silently.
Captain Nemo filled me with insurmountable horror.
Whatever he had once suffered at the hands of humanity,
he had no right to mete out such punishment. He had made me,
if not an accomplice, at least an eyewitness to his vengeance!
Even this was intolerable.
At eleven o'clock the electric lights came back on. I went into
the lounge. It was deserted. I consulted the various instruments.
The Nautilus was fleeing northward at a speed of twenty-five miles
per hour, sometimes on the surface of the sea, sometimes thirty
feet beneath it.
After our position had been marked on the chart, I saw that we
were passing into the mouth of the English Channel, that our heading
would take us to the northernmost seas with incomparable speed.
I could barely glimpse the swift passing of longnose sharks,
hammerhead sharks, spotted dogfish that frequent these waters,
big eagle rays, swarms of seahorse looking like knights on a chessboard,
eels quivering like fireworks serpents, armies of crab that fled
obliquely by crossing their pincers over their carapaces,
finally schools of porpoise that held contests of speed with
the Nautilus. But by this point observing, studying, and classifying
were out of the question.
By evening we had cleared 200 leagues up the Atlantic. Shadows gathered
and gloom overran the sea until the moon came up.
I repaired to my stateroom. I couldn't sleep. I was assaulted
by nightmares. That horrible scene of destruction kept repeating
in my mind's eye.