An Underwater Cemetery
The Nautilus was finally free of the rocks near Papua. We now travelled east, past Australia and into the Indian Ocean. Life on the ship was normal again.
We sometimes stopped on the ocean floor and walked outside the ship. We wore special suits. They had large glass heads with special tanks filled with air, so we could breathe.
Ned Land still wanted to escape, and he thought about it every day. But now that we were in the Indian Ocean, there was nowhere to escape to.
One afternoon, while the Nautilus was on the surface of the water, I went upstairs to have a look outside. I saw Captain Nemo looking through a telescope at something far away. He said something to one of his men, and the man went downstairs quickly. The Captain looked very serious. I had a small telescope with me, so I put it up to my eye to see what he was looking at. At that moment, I felt a strong hand knock the telescope away from my eye.
«Professor, I want you to go below. You, Mr Land, and Mr Conseil will stay in your rooms until I say you can leave.»
«May I ask why?»
There was nothing more to say. Captain Nemo was upset about something, and he had the power to tell us what to do. I went to my room quietly. They served our dinner in our rooms. I fell asleep quickly. When I woke up, I thought that they put something in our food to make us sleep.
The next afternoon, Captain Nemo suddenly opened my door. He came in with one of his men. He looked very worried.
«Professor, do you know anything about medicine?»
«Do you mean, am I a doctor?»
«I know some things. Why?»
«I have a man who needs help. Could you have a look at him?»
Captain Nemo took me to a room where there was a man lying on a bed. He had white bandages on his head. There was blood on the bandages, and the man looked very sick. He was cold and white. I told Captain Nemo that he would not live. The Captain’s face changed. He looked very sad and there were tears in his eyes.
«May I ask what happened?»
The Captain turned away from me.
«What does it matter? A man will die. Isn’t that enough?»
Captain Nemo surprised me. At times he could be cold and serious. Then he could cry for a member of his crew’.
«You can go, Professor.»
The next day, I saw the Captain on the platform. It was a bright sunny day. I did not want to say anything about the sick man, but I was curious. I asked him if he wanted to go for a walk on the ocean floor. He said yes, so we put our suits on and off we went.
The Indian Ocean had the most beautiful rocks, plants and fish in the world. All of us enjoyed it very much.
It was like a colourful picture show. But Captain Nemo had another reason for our walk. I saw that his men carried something long and flat in a bag. They also had tools to dig with. Then we arrived at a safe area, with large plants around it. They put the bag down and began digging. At that moment, I understood everything. They were going to bury the dead man.
When we returned to the Nautilus, I told Captain Nemo that his man was safe where he was.
«Not even the sharks can go there, Captain.»
«Or men, Professor.»