Chapter XXIII. THE CORAL KINGDOM
The next day I woke with my head singularly clear. To my great
Surprise, I was in my own room. My companions, no doubt, had been
Reinstated in their cabin, without having perceived it any more than I. Of
What had passed during the night they were as ignorant as I was, and to
Penetrate this mystery I only reckoned upon the chances of the future.
I then thought of quitting my room. Was I free again or a prisoner?
Quite free. I opened the door, went to the half-deck, went up the central
Stairs. The panels, shut the evening before, were open. I went on to the
Ned Land and Conseil waited there for me. I questioned them; they knew
Nothing. Lost in a heavy sleep in which they had been totally unconscious,
They had been astonished at finding themselves in their cabin.
As for the Nautilus, it seemed quiet and mysterious as ever. It floated
On the surface of the waves at a moderate pace. Nothing seemed changed on
The second lieutenant then came on to the platform, and gave the usual
As for Captain Nemo, he did not appear.
Of the people on board, I only saw the impassive steward, who served me
With his usual dumb regularity.
About two o’clock, I was in the drawing-room, busied in arranging my
Notes, when the Captain opened the door and appeared. I bowed. He made a
Slight inclination in return, without speaking. I resumed my work, hoping
That he would perhaps give me some explanation of the events of the
Preceding night. He made none. I looked at him. He seemed fatigued; his
Heavy eyes had not been refreshed by sleep; his face looked very
Sorrowful. He walked to and fro, sat down and got up again, took a chance
Book, put it down, consulted his instruments without taking his habitual
Notes, and seemed restless and uneasy. At last, he came
up to me, and
“Are you a doctor, M. Aronnax?”
I so little expected such a question that I stared some time at him
“Are you a doctor?” he repeated. “Several of your colleagues have
“Well,” said I, “I am a doctor and resident surgeon to the hospital. I
Practised several years before entering the museum.”
“Very well, sir.”
My answer had evidently satisfied the Captain. But, not knowing what he
Would say next, I waited for other questions, reserving my answers
According to circumstances.
“M. Aronnax, will you consent to prescribe for one of my men?” be asked.
“Is he ill?”
“I am ready to follow you.”
I own my heart beat, I do not know why. I saw certain connection
Between the illness of one of the crew and the events of the day before;
And this mystery interested me at least as much as the sick man.
Captain Nemo conducted me to the poop of the Nautilus, and took me into
A cabin situated near the sailors’ quarters.
There, on a bed, lay a man about forty years of age, with a resolute
Expression of countenance, a true type of an Anglo-Saxon.
I leant over him. He was not only ill, he was wounded. His head,
Swathed in bandages covered with blood, lay on a pillow. I undid the
Bandages, and the wounded man looked at me with his large eyes and gave no
Sign of pain as I did it. It was a horrible wound. The skull, shattered by
Some deadly weapon, left the brain exposed, which was much injured. Clots
Of blood had formed in the bruised and broken mass, in colour like the
Dregs of wine.