20,000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA | World Famous Classics

It was the year 1866. Some strange reports had created a chaos in America and Europe. There had been numerous attacks on ships sailing in the Pacific Ocean. The people who survived the attacks claimed to have seen a large monster with many blowholes. The creature seemed to bear a resemblance to a whale. It was oblong in shape and had been reported shooting air out of its top.

Dr Pierre Arronax was a scientist who specialized in marine studies. As per him, the attacks might be caused by a Great Narwhal which was a whale-like mammal with a horn on its head. So, Dr Arronax had been invited by the American Government to join the ship ‘Abraham Lincoln’ and its Captain Farragut on a mission to hunt the sea monster. So, Dr Arronax and his loyal servant Conseil set sail.

On board the ship were experienced seamen– Dr Aronnax, the renowned scientist; his servant, Conseil; and Ned Land, the king of harpooners. Farragut, the captain of the ship, was a serious and competent naval officer. All except Ned continuously watched the water because Captain Farragut had promised to give 2,000 dollars to the first person who would spot the mysterious monster.

‘Abraham Lincoln’ chased the sea monster for months but had no luck. In early November, when they were about to abandon their mission, they saw a strange light in the water. The survivors had reported that some light preceded the attacks. The crew saw a large black creature emerging from the deep. It shot water from it holes. Arronax estimated the creature to be 225 feet in length.

Ned urged the captain of the ship to chase the monster. He threw a harpoon but the harpoon bounced back as if the creature was made of steel. The encounter almost overturned the ship causing Ned, Conseil and Dr Arronax to fall overboard and on the back of the mysterious creature. Dr Arronax realized that what they were on was not actually the creature but the man-made submarine.

The entire night, the three men clung to it lest they should fall. In the morning, they met Nemo, the captain of the submarine. He was not only intelligent but also calm and composed. But he withheld all personal information. He told them, “I have broken with society for reasons which I alone have the right to appreciate.” His submarine, Nautilus, explored the mysteries of the underworld.

The three men were fed well and kept in clean rooms. Captain Nemo told them that they could never leave the ship but as long as they didn’t create any problem they had freedom to move around on the ship. But on Nemo’s orders, they had to stay in their rooms. Arronax was fascinated by that man and Captain Nemo was pleased to have Arronax aboard. Ned, however, was furious at Nemo’s conditions.

Captain Nemo gave Dr Arronax a tour of his wonderful ship. He also explained how it ran on very powerful electricity. Nemo was very rich and hence, could provide all the luxuries on his ship. He also explained that he had broken with society. He hated it and never wanted to return. Hence Dr Arronax and his companions could also not return to land.

This kicked off a series of adventures that covered a distance of 20,000 leagues. During their journey, Dr Arronax, Conseil, Ned and the crew of the Nautilus visited coral reefs off the South Pacific, volcanoes under the Mediterranean, icescapes in the South Pole, and numerous other wonders of the natural world.

During their journey on the Nautilus, the men experienced many thrilling adventures. They hunted in underwater forests and visited an island with angry natives. They not only visited the lost city of Atlantis but also gathered many giant pearls. But at the same time, they also came across many difficult situations along with Captain Nemo’s unpredictable behaviour.

One night, the land was in sight and so captain Nemo seemed angry and nervous. He ordered Arronax and others to take their meals in their rooms itself. However, sleeping pills were added in their food. The next morning when they awoke, Arronax was asked to look after a crewman who was badly injured. Arronax tried to save the man, but the man died and Captain Nemo buried him underwater.

On a voyage to the South Pole, the Nautilus got stuck in the ice. Turn by turn everyone tried to break the ice and create a passage for the ship to pass through. The ship almost ran out of its oxygen supply and the men grew tired and restless. Nevertheless, they escaped just in time.

On another occasion, the ship sailed through an area where there were many giant squids. One of the giant squids got stuck in the propeller of the submarine. The men and the crew fought off the squid with axes because it could not be killed with bullets. While fighting, a crew member was killed by the squid. Nemo was moved to tears.

The action continued as Captain Nemo attacked the warship. Arronax was not aware to which country the warship belonged. But he was shocked when Nemo destroyed the warship and it sank. Arronax and his companions decided to escape at all costs.

One night, Aronnax, Conseil and Ned planned to escape. To their disappointment they realized that they were heading towards a terrible storm that no ship had ever survived. They tried their best to stabilise the ship. In his efforts, Arronax hit his head and was knocked unconscious. When he regained his consciousness, he and his companions were safe in a fisherman’s hut.

They had no idea how they survived the terrible storm. They were also unaware about the whereabouts of Captain Nemo and the submarine. But they were happy to be free from the crazy man. Arronax now awaited his return to France and wrote his chronicle of the journey under the sea.

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