CHAPTER 15: Accident or Incident?
I strolled for a little while from the lounge into the library.
My companions kept their seats and didn't move. Soon I threw myself
down on a couch and picked up a book, which my eyes skimmed mechanically.
A quarter of an hour later, Conseil approached me, saying:
"Is it deeply fascinating, this volume master is reading?"
"Tremendously fascinating," I replied.
"I believe it. Master is reading his own book!"
"My own book?"
Indeed, my hands were holding my own work on the great ocean depths.
I hadn't even suspected. I closed the book and resumed my strolling.
Ned and Conseil stood up to leave.
"Stay here, my friends," I said, stopping them. "Let's stay together
until we're out of this blind alley."
"As master wishes," Conseil replied.
The hours passed. I often studied the instruments hanging on
the lounge wall. The pressure gauge indicated that the Nautilus
stayed at a constant depth of 300 meters, the compass that it kept
heading south, the log that it was traveling at a speed of twenty
miles per hour, an excessive speed in such a cramped area.
But Captain Nemo knew that by this point there was no such thing
as too fast, since minutes were now worth centuries.
At 8:25 a second collision took place. This time astern.
I grew pale. My companions came over. I clutched Conseil's hand.
Our eyes questioned each other, and more directly than if our thoughts
had been translated into words.
Just then the captain entered the lounge. I went to him.
"Our path is barred to the south?" I asked him.
"Yes, sir. When it overturned, that iceberg closed off every exit."