20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
by Jules Verne
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Part 2 Chapter 8 Summary
- Ah, the Atlantic. A big, old body of water, and the Nautilus's new cruising grounds.
- Ned's all angry now, since they've missed their chance at escaping into the Med. Aronnax does his best to reassure the harpooner, but Ned's already a step ahead.
- Escape. 9:00PM. Tonight. That's the plan, he says.
- The sea's rough, Aronnax says.
- Whatever, Ned says. He wants his freedom, rough seas be darned.
- Aronnax is all conflicted, as usual. He lets the drama play out in his head, while he listens to the Nautilus dive into the ocean deeps.
- Aronnax has his luggage in order. Still, he wonders what Nemo would think. (The captain's been AWOL for a while now.)
- Maybe while I thought he was out being a hater he was really up to something secret, he thinks.
- With escape time approaching, Aronnax makes one last trip to the salon.
- En route, he notices that Nemo's door is open, so he peeks inside.
- On Nemo's wall, there are pictures of freedom fighters: Thaddeus Kosciusko of Poland, King George Washington, Abe Lincoln, etc.
- Aronnax gets to wondering what exactly Nemo likes about these dudes. Maybe Nemo's a freedom fighter; maybe he fought against the South in the American Civil War? Who knows? He poses more questions (to himself), and gets few answers.
- 8:00PM rolls around and things are looking good for Ned's plan.
- Then, it's almost 9:00PM and things are still looking good; Aronnax steels himself for the escape.
- Suddenly, he feels a big bump. No signal comes from Ned.
- Now Nemo rolls into the salon and asks Aronnax if he knows his history of Spain.
- Aronnax is speechless. He doesn't know anything about Spain, and even if he did, he's not ready for Nemo's pop quiz.
- Nemo launches into a story about Spanish galleons filled with treasure and an encounter with the English that ended with those same Spanish ships getting sunk, and the treasure landing on the bottom of the sea.
- Then Nemo says, Oh, and by the way, it just so happens we're in Vigo Bay now—the place where all of this Spanish treasure went down. He guides Aronnax to the window.
- Outside, Aronnax can see the wrecks of ships and broken barrels and chests spilling over with gold and jewels.
- Nemo, Aronnax realizes, has inherited all of that loot. He's in control of all of the treasure stolen by the Spanish conquistadors.
- Aronnax tells Nemo that a company actually has the right to loot that very treasure. Frankly, he continues, it's a bit selfish of you to be taking all of this stuff for your Big Sea Adventures when someone else could put it to good use.
- Nemo is not pleased by Aronnax's comments. "Who told you that I do not put them to good use?" he says. "Do you think I am unaware there are suffering beings and oppressed races on this planet, wretches to be helped and victims to be avenged? Don't you understand?" (2.8.75).
- Aronnax does understand. Well, now he does, anyway. He finally gets what Nemo was doing with old "Pesce" off of the coast of Crete.
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