CHAPTER 7: A Whale of Unknown Species
ALTHOUGH I WAS startled by this unexpected descent, I at least
have a very clear recollection of my sensations during it.
At first I was dragged about twenty feet under. I'm a good swimmer,
without claiming to equal such other authors as Byron and Edgar Allan Poe,
who were master divers, and I didn't lose my head on the way down.
With two vigorous kicks of the heel, I came back to the surface
of the sea.
My first concern was to look for the frigate. Had the crew
seen me go overboard? Was the Abraham Lincoln tacking about?
Would Commander Farragut put a longboat to sea? Could I hope
to be rescued?
The gloom was profound. I glimpsed a black mass disappearing eastward,
where its running lights were fading out in the distance.
It was the frigate. I felt I was done for.
"Help! Help!" I shouted, swimming desperately toward the Abraham Lincoln.
My clothes were weighing me down. The water glued them to
my body, they were paralyzing my movements. I was sinking!
I was suffocating . . . !
This was the last shout I gave. My mouth was filling with water.
I struggled against being dragged into the depths. . . .
Suddenly my clothes were seized by energetic hands, I felt myself
pulled abruptly back to the surface of the sea, and yes, I heard
these words pronounced in my ear:
"If master would oblige me by leaning on my shoulder, master will
swim with much greater ease."
With one hand I seized the arm of my loyal Conseil.
"You!" I said. "You!"
"Myself," Conseil replied, "and at master's command."
"That collision threw you overboard along with me?"