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It's the end of May now, and the Nautilus is cruising off the northern coast of Ireland. Aronnax thinks they might be headed to England but no, Nemo turns south, toward Europe.
Aronnax wonders if Nemo's going to try and make his way through the narrow English Channel. Wrong again. They continue south.
The Nautilus spends a day going in circles. Strange. It circles around the next day, too. Aronnax guesses that Nemo's looking for a particular spot.
That day, while up on deck, Aronnax spots a large steamship off in the distance. He can't tell where it's from. There's no flag visible.
Nemo is up on deck too, taking the sub's position. He turns to Aronnax and says, "It is here!" (2.20.42).
The two men head down below and the Nautilus begins to dive.
A few minutes later—and nearly one thousand meters deeper—the windows in the salon open. Outside the starboard window, Aronnax can just make out the decayed form of a sailing ship.
Aronnax doesn't get it. He doesn't know why Nemo would show him this ship in particular.
So Nemo tells him.
It's a French ship, one that fought on the side of the Colonies in the American Revolution and on the side of the Republic in the French Revolution. Seventy-four years ago today, Nemo tells Aronnax, that ship battled two British ships. Defeated, the men on board preferred to scuttle—that is, destroy—the ship, rather than be taken prisoner.
Now Aronnax gets it. "The Vengeur!" he cries. "Yes monsieur. The Vengeur A fine name!" says Captain Nemo (2.20.52-3).