Verne j. 20000 leagues under the sea. part1

Chapter I. A SHIFTING REEF

The year 1866 was signalised by a remarkable incident, a mysterious and
Puzzling phenomenon, which doubtless no one has yet forgotten. Not to
Mention rumours which agitated the maritime population and excited the
Public mind, even in the interior of continents, seafaring men were
Particularly excited. Merchants, common sailors, captains of vessels,
Skippers, both of Europe and America, naval officers of all countries, and
The Governments of several States on the two continents, were deeply
Interested in the matter.
For some time past vessels had been met by “an enormous thing,” a long
Object, spindle-shaped, occasionally phosphorescent, and infinitely larger
And more rapid in its movements than a whale.
The facts relating to this apparition (entered in various log-books)
Agreed in most respects as to the shape of the object or creature in
Question, the untiring rapidity of its movements, its surprising power of
Locomotion, and the peculiar life with which it seemed endowed. If it was
A whale, it surpassed in size all those hitherto classified in science.
Taking into consideration the mean of observations made at divers times-
Rejecting the timid estimate of those who assigned to this object a length
Of two hundred feet, equally with the exaggerated opinions which set it
Down as a mile in width and three in length-we might fairly conclude that
This mysterious being surpassed greatly all dimensions admitted by the
Learned ones of the day, if it existed at all. And that it DID exist was
An undeniable fact; and, with that tendency which disposes the human mind
In favour of the marvellous, we can understand the excitement produced in
The entire world by this supernatural apparition. As to classing it in the
List of fables, the idea was out of the question.
On the 20th of

July, 1866, the steamer Governor Higginson, of the
Calcutta and Burnach Steam Navigation Company, had met this moving mass
Five miles off the east coast of Australia. Captain Baker thought at first
That he was in the presence of an unknown sandbank; he even prepared to
Determine its exact position when two columns of water, projected by the
Mysterious object, shot with a hissing noise a hundred and fifty feet up
Into the air. Now, unless the sandbank had been submitted to the
Intermittent eruption of a geyser, the Governor Higginson had to do
Neither more nor less than with an aquatic mammal, unknown till then,
Which threw up from its blow-holes columns of water mixed with air and
Vapour.
Similar facts were observed on the 23rd of July in the same year, in
The Pacific Ocean, by the Columbus, of the West India and Pacific Steam
Navigation Company. But this extraordinary creature could transport itself
From one place to another with surprising velocity; as, in an interval of
Three days, the Governor Higginson and the Columbus had observed it at two
Different points of the chart, separated by a distance of more than seven
Hundred nautical leagues.
Fifteen days later, two thousand miles farther off, the Helvetia, of
The Compagnie-Nationale, and the Shannon, of the Royal Mail Steamship
Company, sailing to windward in that portion of the Atlantic lying between
The United States and Europe, respectively signalled the monster to each
Other in 42O 15′ N. lat. and 60O 35′ W. long. In these simultaneous



Verne j. 20000 leagues under the sea. part1