CHAPTER 11: The Nautilus
CAPTAIN NEMO stood up. I followed him. Contrived at the rear
of the dining room, a double door opened, and I entered a room
whose dimensions equaled the one I had just left.
It was a library. Tall, black-rosewood bookcases, inlaid with copperwork,
held on their wide shelves a large number of uniformly bound books.
These furnishings followed the contours of the room, their lower
parts leading to huge couches upholstered in maroon leather
and curved for maximum comfort. Light, movable reading stands,
which could be pushed away or pulled near as desired,
allowed books to be positioned on them for easy study.
In the center stood a huge table covered with pamphlets,
among which some newspapers, long out of date, were visible.
Electric light flooded this whole harmonious totality, falling from
four frosted half globes set in the scrollwork of the ceiling.
I stared in genuine wonderment at this room so ingeniously laid out,
and I couldn't believe my eyes.
"Captain Nemo," I told my host, who had just stretched out on
a couch, "this is a library that would do credit to more than one
continental palace, and I truly marvel to think it can go with you
into the deepest seas."
"Where could one find greater silence or solitude, professor?"
Captain Nemo replied. "Did your study at the museum afford you
such a perfect retreat?"
"No, sir, and I might add that it's quite a humble one next to yours.
You own 6,000 or 7,000 volumes here . . ."
"12,000, Professor Aronnax. They're my sole remaining ties
with dry land. But I was done with the shore the day my Nautilus
submerged for the first time under the waters. That day I purchased
my last volumes, my last pamphlets, my last newspapers, and ever
since I've chosen to believe that humanity no longer thinks or writes.
In any event, professor, these books are at your disposal, and you
may use them freely."
I thanked Captain Nemo and approached the shelves of this library.
Written in every language, books on science, ethics, and literature
were there in abundance, but I didn't see a single work on economics--
they seemed to be strictly banned on board. One odd detail:
all these books were shelved indiscriminately without regard
to the language in which they were written, and this jumble proved
that the Nautilus's captain could read fluently whatever volumes
he chanced to pick up.