20000 Leagues Under the Sea
“What about master’s live babirusa?”
“They’ll feed it during our absence. Anyhow, we’ll leave instructions
to ship the whole menagerie to France.”
“Then we aren’t returning to Paris?” Conseil asked.
“Yes, we are . . . certainly . . . ,” I replied evasively,
“but after we make a detour.”
“Whatever detour master wishes.”
“Oh, it’s nothing really! A route slightly less direct, that’s all.
We’re leaving on the Abraham Lincoln.”
“As master thinks best,” Conseil replied placidly.
“You see, my friend, it’s an issue of the monster,
the notorious narwhale. We’re going to rid the seas of it!
The author of a two-volume work, in quarto, on The Mysteries
of the Great Ocean Depths has no excuse for not setting sail
with Commander Farragut. It’s a glorious mission but also a
dangerous one! We don’t know where it will take us! These beasts
can be quite unpredictable! But we’re going just the same!
We have a commander who’s game for anything!”
“What master does, I’ll do,” Conseil replied.
“But think it over, because I don’t want to hide anything from you.
This is one of those voyages from which people don’t always come back!”
“As master wishes.”
A quarter of an hour later, our trunks were ready. Conseil did
them in a flash, and I was sure the lad hadn’t missed a thing,
because he classified shirts and suits as expertly as birds and mammals.
The hotel elevator dropped us off in the main vestibule on the mezzanine.
I went down a short stair leading to the ground floor.
I settled my bill at that huge counter that was always under siege
by a considerable crowd. I left instructions for shipping my containers
of stuffed animals and dried plants to Paris, France. I opened a line
of credit sufficient to cover the babirusa and, Conseil at my heels,
I jumped into a carriage.
For a fare of twenty francs, the vehicle went down Broadway
to Union Square, took Fourth Ave. to its junction with Bowery St.,
turned into Katrin St. and halted at Pier 34. There the Katrin ferry
transferred men, horses, and carriage to Brooklyn, that great New York
annex located on the left bank of the East River, and in a few
minutes we arrived at the wharf next to which the Abraham Lincoln
was vomiting torrents of black smoke from its two funnels.
Our baggage was immediately carried to the deck of the frigate.
I rushed aboard. I asked for Commander Farragut. One of the sailors led
me to the afterdeck, where I stood in the presence of a smart-looking
officer who extended his hand to me.