Inside the Nautilus
They took us through a long dark tunnel. We could see nothing around us. They put us into a dark room, then closed the door behind us. A light came on. The room was empty. It only had a table and five chairs in the middle. Ned Land got very angry.
«They mustn’t treat me like this. I didn’t do anything wrong. I’m getting out of here. Do you hear me? I want out!»
Ned screamed at the locked door, but no one answered his call.
«Don’t use all your energy, Mr Land. We may need it later.»
«Quite right, Conseil. As usual, you speak with your mind and not your heart.»
The door opened again after some minutes. Two men stood there in front of us. One was tall with dark serious eyes. The other was short. He looked at us without any interest. The two men wore black hats and shoes made from seal skin. Their clothes looked thin and comfortable.
They spoke a language which I did not understand. I spoke to them in French, German and English. I told them our story, but they did not seem to understand. Mr Land got angry again.
«You listen to me! You let us off this ship or…»
«There’s no reason to be angry, Mr Land. It is I who should be angry with you.»
The tall man was calm and he spoke perfect English. He surprised all of us, and we didn’t say a word.
«You are on the Nautilus. I am its captain, and my name is Captain Nemo. This ship, and my own life, is a secret to the outside world. I do not want to see that world again. I live here, under the sea. You will stay here with me, but you will have the same freedom everyone else on the ship has.»
«What does that mean, Captain?»
«That means that you are free to sec all the wonderful things under the sea. No man in your world can ever see these things. I am saying, gentlemen, that you are very lucky!»
«You mean well never go home again? That’s impossible!»
«Mr Land, you gave me no choice. I do not want anybody to know my secret. You attacked my ship. You found me. Now, you must do what I say.»
Ned Land was not happy at all. I can only say that I was very interested in this strange man. Where did he come from? Why did he leave «our» world?
Captain Nemo spoke to the short man in their strange language, then the short man left us. Then he tried to be friendly.
«You will not find life on the Nautilus so bad. We have wonderful food, and your rooms are very comfortable.»
The Captain showed Ned and Conseil to their rooms, but he stopped me for a moment.
«Professor, may I show you something?»
«Why, of course.»
Captain Nemo took me down to the bottom of the Nautilus, where there was a room like a large museum. It had pictures by famous painters on the walls and glass cases with beautiful shells from the sea.
«I read your book, Professor. You know a lot about sea life. You see. I enjoy sea life.»
«You have things here that most people only read about, Captain.»
«Well, I enjoy this room, but what I really prefer is looking out there.»
The Captain pressed a button and two of the walls opened up. Behind them, there were large glass windows looking out onto the sea. A white light coming from the ship made everything easy to see. I stood in front of the window like a small boy at the zoo, and, believe me, I didn’t feel at all like Captain Nemo’s prisoner.