CHAPTER 16: Shortage of Air
Captain Nemo went out. Hissing sounds soon told me that water
was being admitted into the ballast tanks. The Nautilus slowly
settled and rested on the icy bottom at a depth of 350 meters,
the depth at which the lower shelf of ice lay submerged.
"My friends," I said, "we're in a serious predicament, but I'm
counting on your courage and energy."
"Sir," the Canadian replied, "this is no time to bore you with
my complaints. I'm ready to do anything I can for the common good."
"Excellent, Ned," I said, extending my hand to the Canadian.
"I might add," he went on, "that I'm as handy with a pick as a harpoon.
If I can be helpful to the captain, he can use me any way he wants."
"He won't turn down your assistance. Come along, Ned."
I led the Canadian to the room where the Nautilus's men were putting
on their diving suits. I informed the captain of Ned's proposition,
which was promptly accepted. The Canadian got into his
underwater costume and was ready as soon as his fellow workers.
Each of them carried on his back a Rouquayrol device that the air
tanks had supplied with a generous allowance of fresh oxygen.
A considerable but necessary drain on the Nautilus's reserves.
As for the Ruhmkorff lamps, they were unnecessary in the midst
of these brilliant waters saturated with our electric rays.
After Ned was dressed, I reentered the lounge, whose windows had
been uncovered; stationed next to Conseil, I examined the strata
surrounding and supporting the Nautilus.
Some moments later, we saw a dozen crewmen set foot on the shelf
of ice, among them Ned Land, easily recognized by his tall figure.
Captain Nemo was with them.