“Life is simply fading out,” replied the reporter.
“Nevertheless,” said the sailor, “if we move him into the open air, and the light of the sun, he might perhaps recover.”
“No, Pencroft,” answered the engineer, “it is useless to attempt it. Besides, Captain Nemo would never consent to leave his vessel. He has lived for a dozen years on board the ‘Nautilus,’ and on board the ‘Nautilus’ he desires to die.”
Without doubt Captain Nemo heard Cyrus Harding’s reply, for he raised himself slightly, and in a voice more feeble, but always intelligible,—
“You are right, sir,” he said. “I shall die here—it is my wish; and therefore I have a request to make of you.”
Cyrus Harding and his companions had drawn near the divan, and now arranged the cushions in such a manner as to better support the dying man.
They saw his eyes wander over all the marvels of this saloon, lighted by the electric rays which fell from the arabesques of the luminous ceiling. He surveyed, one after the other, the pictures hanging from the splendid tapestries of the partitions, the chef-d’oeuvres of the Italian, Flemish, French, and Spanish masters; the statues of marble and bronze on their pedestals; the magnificent organ, leaning against the after-partition; the aquarium, in which bloomed the most wonderful productions of the sea— marine plants, zoophytes, chaplets of pearls of inestimable value; and, finally, his eyes rested on this device, inscribed over the pediment of the museum—the motto of the “Nautilus”—
“Mobilis in mobile.”
His glance seemed to rest fondly for the last time on these masterpieces of art and of nature, to which he had limited his horizon during a sojourn of so many years in the abysses of the seas.
Cyrus Harding respected the captain’s silence, and waited till he should speak.
After some minutes, during which, doubtless, he passed in review his whole life, Captain Nemo turned to the colonists and said,
“You consider yourselves, gentlemen, under some obligations to me?”
“Captain, believe us that we would give our lives to prolong yours.”
“Promise, then,” continued Captain Nemo, “to carry out my last wishes, and I shall be repaid for all I have done for you.”
“We promise,” said Cyrus Harding.
And by this promise he bound both himself and his companions.
“Gentlemen,” resumed the captain, “to-morrow I shall be dead.”
Herbert was about to utter an exclamation, but a sign from the captain arrested him.
“To-morrow I shall die, and I desire no other tomb than the ‘Nautilus.’ It is my grave! All my friends repose in the depths of the ocean; their resting-place shall be mine.”
These words were received with profound silence.
“Pay attention to my wishes,” he continued. “The ‘Nautilus’ is imprisoned in this grotto, the entrance of which is blocked up; but, although egress is impossible, the vessel may at least sink in the abyss, and there bury my remains.”