Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
The Torres Strait
DURING THE NIGHT of December 27-28, the Nautilus left the waterways of Vanikoro
behind with extraordinary speed. Its heading was southwesterly, and in three days it had
cleared the 750 leagues that separated La Pérouse's islands from the southeastern tip of
On January 1, 1868, bright and early, Conseil joined me on the platform.
"Will master," the gallant lad said to me, "allow me to wish him a happy new year?"
"Good heavens, Conseil, it's just like old times in my office at the Botanical Gardens in
Paris! I accept your kind wishes and I thank you for them. Only, I'd like to know what
you mean by a 'happy year' under the circumstances in which we're placed. Is it a year
that will bring our imprisonment to an end, or a year that will see this strange voyage
"Ye gods," Conseil replied, "I hardly know what to tell master. We're certainly seeing
some unusual things, and for two months we've had no time for boredom. The latest
wonder is always the most astonishing, and if this progression keeps up, I can't imagine
what its climax will be. In my opinion, we'll never again have such an opportunity."
"Besides, Mr. Nemo really lives up to his Latin name, since he couldn't be less in the way
if he didn't exist."
"True enough, Conseil."
"Therefore, with all due respect to master, I think a 'happy year' would be a year that lets
us see everything--"
"Everything, Conseil? No year could be that long. But what does Ned Land think about
"Ned Land's thoughts are exactly the opposite of mine," Conseil replied. "He has a
practical mind and a demanding stomach. He's tired of staring at fish and eating them day
in and day out. This shortage of wine, bread, and meat isn't suitable for an upstanding
Anglo-Saxon, a man accustomed to beefsteak and unfazed by regular doses of brandy or
"For my part, Conseil, that doesn't bother me in the least, and I've adjusted very nicely to
the diet on board."
"So have I," Conseil replied. "Accordingly, I think as much about staying as Mr. Land
about making his escape. Thus, if this new year isn't a happy one for me, it will be for