CHAPTER 24: The Coral Realm
THE NEXT DAY I woke up with my head unusually clear. Much to
my surprise, I was in my stateroom. No doubt my companions had been
put back in their cabin without noticing it any more than I had.
Like me, they would have no idea what took place during the night, and to
unravel this mystery I could count only on some future happenstance.
I then considered leaving my stateroom. Was I free or still a prisoner?
Perfectly free. I opened my door, headed down the gangways,
and climbed the central companionway. Hatches that had been closed
the day before were now open. I arrived on the platform.
Ned Land and Conseil were there waiting for me. I questioned them.
They knew nothing. Lost in a heavy sleep of which they had no memory,
they were quite startled to be back in their cabin.
As for the Nautilus, it seemed as tranquil and mysterious as ever.
It was cruising on the surface of the waves at a moderate speed.
Nothing seemed to have changed on board.
Ned Land observed the sea with his penetrating eyes. It was deserted.
The Canadian sighted nothing new on the horizon, neither sail nor shore.
A breeze was blowing noisily from the west, and disheveled by the wind,
long billows made the submersible roll very noticeably.
After renewing its air, the Nautilus stayed at an average depth
of fifteen meters, enabling it to return quickly to the surface
of the waves. And, contrary to custom, it executed such a maneuver
several times during that day of January 19. The chief officer
would then climb onto the platform, and his usual phrase would ring
through the ship's interior.
As for Captain Nemo, he didn't appear. Of the other men on board,
I saw only my emotionless steward, who served me with his
usual mute efficiency.