At length, shortly after midnight, Captain Nemo by a supreme effort succeeded in folding his arms across his breast, as if wishing in that attitude to compose himself for death.
By one o’clock his glance alone showed signs of life. A dying light gleamed in those eyes once so brilliant. Then, murmuring the words, “God and my country!” he quietly expired.
Cyrus Harding, bending low closed the eyes of him who had once been the Prince Dakkar, and was now not even Captain Nemo.
Herbert and Pencroft sobbed aloud. Tears fell from Ayrton’s eyes. Neb was on his knees by the reporter’s side, motionless as a statue.
Then Cyrus Harding, extending his hand over the forehead of the dead, said solemnly, “May his soul be with God!” Turning to his friends, he added, “Let us pray for him whom we have lost!”
Some hours later the colonists fulfilled the promise made to the captain by carrying out his dying wishes.
Cyrus Harding and his companions quitted the “Nautilus,” taking with them the only memento left them by their benefactor, the coffer which contained wealth amounting to millions.
The marvelous saloon, still flooded with light, had been carefully closed. The iron door leading on deck was then securely fastened in such a manner as to prevent even a drop of water from penetrating to the interior of the “Nautilus.”
The colonists then descended into the canoe, which was moored to the side of the submarine vessel.
The canoe was now brought around to the stern. There, at the water-line, were two large stop-cocks communicating with the reservoirs employed in the submersion of the vessel.
The stop-cocks were opened, the reservoirs filled, and the “Nautilus,” slowly sinking, disappeared beneath the surface of the lake.
But the colonists were yet able to follow its descent through the waves. The powerful light it gave forth lighted up the translucent water, while the cavern became gradually obscure. At length this vast effusion of electric light faded away, and soon after the “Nautilus,” now the tomb of Captain Nemo, reposed in its ocean bed.
At break of day the colonists regained in silence the entrance of the cavern, to which they gave the name of “Dakkar Grotto,” in memory of Captain Nemo. It was now low-water, and they passed without difficulty under the arcade, washed on the right by the sea.
The canoe was left here, carefully protected from the waves. As additional precaution, Pencroft, Neb, and Ayrton drew it up on a little beach which bordered one of the sides of the grotto, in a spot where it could run no risk of harm.
The storm had ceased during the night. The last low mutterings of the thunder died away in the west. Rain fell no longer, but the sky was yet obscured by clouds. On the whole, this month of October, the first of the southern spring, was not ushered in by satisfactory tokens, and the wind had a tendency to shift from one point of the compass to another, which rendered it impossible to count upon settled weather.