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!"