Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Strolling the Plains
THIS CELL, properly speaking, was the Nautilus's arsenal and wardrobe. Hanging from
its walls, a dozen diving outfits were waiting for anybody who wanted to take a stroll.
After seeing these, Ned Land exhibited an obvious distaste for the idea of putting one on.
"But my gallant Ned," I told him, "the forests of Crespo Island are simply underwater
"Oh great!" put in the disappointed harpooner, watching his dreams of fresh meat fade
away. "And you, Professor Aronnax, are you going to stick yourself inside these
"It has to be, Mr. Ned."
"Have it your way, sir," the harpooner replied, shrugging his shoulders. "But speaking for
myself, I'll never get into those things unless they force me!"
"No one will force you, Mr. Land," Captain Nemo said.
"And is Conseil going to risk it?" Ned asked.
"Where master goes, I go," Conseil replied.
At the captain's summons, two crewmen came to help us put on these heavy, waterproof
clothes, made from seamless india rubber and expressly designed to bear considerable
pressures. They were like suits of armor that were both yielding and resistant, you might
say. These clothes consisted of jacket and pants. The pants ended in bulky footwear
adorned with heavy lead soles. The fabric of the jacket was reinforced with copper mail
that shielded the chest, protected it from the water's pressure, and allowed the lungs to
function freely; the sleeves ended in supple gloves that didn't impede hand movements.
These perfected diving suits, it was easy to see, were a far cry from such misshapen
costumes as the cork breastplates, leather jumpers, seagoing tunics, barrel helmets, etc.,
invented and acclaimed in the 18th century.
Conseil and I were soon dressed in these diving suits, as were Captain Nemo and one of
his companions--a herculean type who must have been prodigiously strong. All that
remained was to encase one's head in its metal sphere. But before proceeding with this
operation, I asked the captain for permission to examine the rifles set aside for us.
One of the Nautilus's men presented me with a streamlined rifle whose butt was
boilerplate steel, hollow inside, and of fairly large dimensions. This served as a tank for
the compressed air, which a trigger-operated valve could release into the metal chamber.
In a groove where the butt was heaviest, a cartridge clip held some twenty electric bullets