Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea
Sperm Whales and Baleen Whales
DURING THE NIGHT of March 13-14, the Nautilus resumed its southward heading.
Once it was abreast of Cape Horn, I thought it would strike west of the cape, make for
Pacific seas, and complete its tour of the world. It did nothing of the sort and kept moving
toward the southernmost regions. So where was it bound? The pole? That was insanity. I
was beginning to think that the captain's recklessness more than justified Ned Land's
For a good while the Canadian had said nothing more to me about his escape plans. He
had become less sociable, almost sullen. I could see how heavily this protracted
imprisonment was weighing on him. I could feel the anger building in him. Whenever he
encountered the captain, his eyes would flicker with dark fire, and I was in constant dread
that his natural vehemence would cause him to do something rash.
That day, March 14, he and Conseil managed to find me in my stateroom. I asked them
the purpose of their visit.
"To put a simple question to you, sir," the Canadian answered me.
"Go on, Ned."
"How many men do you think are on board the Nautilus?"
"I'm unable to say, my friend."
"It seems to me," Ned Land went on, "that it wouldn't take much of a crew to run a ship
like this one."
"Correct," I replied. "Under existing conditions some ten men at the most should be
enough to operate it."
"All right," the Canadian said, "then why should there be any more than that?"
"Why?" I answered.
I stared at Ned Land, whose motives were easy to guess.
"Because," I said, "if I can trust my hunches, if I truly understand the captain's way of
life, his Nautilus isn't simply a ship. It's meant to be a refuge for people like its
commander, people who have severed all ties with the shore."
"Perhaps," Conseil said, "but in a nutshell, the Nautilus can hold only a certain number of
men, so couldn't master estimate their maximum?"