The relevant data on this
apparition, as recorded in various logbooks, agreed pretty closely as to the structure of the object or creature in question, its unprecedented speed of movement, its startling locomotive power, and the unique vitality with which it seemed to be gifted.
If it was a
cetacean, it exceeded in bulk any whale previously classified by science.
No naturalist, neither Cuvier nor Lacépède, neither Professor Dumeril nor Professor de Quatrefages, would have accepted the
existence of such a monster sight unseen—specifically, unseen by their own scientific eyes.
So, unless this reef was subject to the intermittent eruptions of a geyser, the Governor Higginson had fair and honest dealings with some
aquatic mammal, until then unknown, that could spurt from its blowholes waterspouts mixed with air and steam.
The tabloids found it a fine opportunity for hatching all sorts of
In those newspapers short of copy, you saw the reappearance of every gigantic imaginary creature, from "Moby Dick," that dreadful white whale from the High Arctic regions, to the
stupendous kraken whose tentacles could entwine a 500–ton craft and drag it into the ocean depths.
The monster again became an islet, rock, or reef, but a runaway reef, unfixed and
outrageous animal had to shoulder responsibility for all derelict vessels, whose numbers are unfortunately considerable, since out of those 3,000 ships whose losses are recorded annually at the marine insurance bureau, the figure for steam or sailing ships supposedly lost with all hands, in the absence of any news, amounts to at least 200!
So only two possible solutions to the question were left, creating two very distinct groups of supporters: on one side, those favoring a monster of
colossal strength; on the other, those favoring an "underwater boat" of tremendous motor power.
And so the monster surfaced again, despite the endless witticisms heaped on it by the popular press, and the human imagination soon got caught up in the most ridiculous ichthyological
"Therefore," I wrote, "after examining these different hypotheses one by one, we are forced, every other supposition having been refuted, to accept the existence of an extremely powerful
The human mind enjoys impressive visions of
Couldn't the heart of the ocean hide the last–remaining varieties of these
titanic species, for whom years are centuries and centuries millennia?
opinion had crystallized as to the nature of this phenomenon, and the public accepted without argument the existence of a
prodigious creature that had nothing in common with the fabled sea serpent.
Yet if some saw it purely as a scientific problem to be solved, more practical people, especially in America and England, were determined to purge the ocean of this
daunting monster, to insure the safety of transoceanic travel.
You see, my friend, it's an issue of the monster, the
These beasts can be quite
He believed in it as certain pious women believe in the
leviathan from the Book of Job—out of faith, not reason.
Consequently, the feats of krakens or other monsters of that
ilk must be relegated to the realm of fiction.
"Note well, my fine Canadian," I went on, "if such an animal exists, if it lives deep in the ocean, if it frequents the liquid strata located miles beneath the surface of the water, it needs to have a
constitution so solid, it defies all comparison."
To answer them called for
dissecting this unknown monster; to
dissect it called for catching it; to catch it called for harpooning it—which was Ned Land's business; to harpoon it called for sighting it—which was the crew's business; and to sight it called for encountering it—which was a chancy business.
Many of our sailors swore that the monster couldn't
negotiate this passageway simply because "he's too big for it!"
We were finally in the area of the monster's latest
Nothing remotely resembling a
gigantic narwhale, or an underwater islet, or a derelict shipwreck, or a runaway reef, or anything the least bit unearthly!
And if it has their power to electrocute, it's surely the most
dreadful animal ever conceived by our Creator.
girth was more difficult to judge, but all in all, the animal seemed to be wonderfully proportioned in all three dimensions.
As for me, with your permission I'll go perch on the bobstays under the bowsprit, and if we can get within a harpoon length, I'll harpoon the
"And $500.00 to the man who can pierce that
rascal must be covered with six-inch armor plate!"
We could still hope that the animal would tire out and not be as
insensitive to exhaustion as our steam engines.
But this hard substance could have been a bony
carapace, like those that covered some prehistoric animals, and I might have left it at that and classified this monster among such amphibious reptiles as turtles or alligators.
This animal, this monster, this natural
phenomenon that had puzzled the whole scientific world, that had muddled and misled the minds of seamen in both hemispheres, was, there could be no escaping it, an even more astonishing
phenomenon made by the hand of man.
Even if I had discovered that some
fabulous, mythological creature really existed, it wouldn't have given me such a terrific mental jolt.
We were stretched out on the back of some kind of underwater boat that, as far as I could judge, boasted the shape of an
immense steel fish.
contraption contain some sort of locomotive mechanism, and a crew to run it?"
These people are about as hospitable as the
savages of New Caledonia!
All that's lacking is for them to be
cannibals! I wouldn't be surprised if they were, but believe you me, they won't eat me without my kicking up a protest!
The first one of these
bandits who lays a hand on me—
We speak French, English, German, and Latin to these
rogues, and neither of them has the decency to even answer back!
In these mysterious marine sanctuaries, I envisioned
hosts of unknown animals, and this underwater boat seemed to be a blood relation of theirs: living, breathing, just as fearsome.