The professor left him.
One quiet morning, he awoke to find an ivory envelope on his bedside table. Did he even need to open it? What else could there be that he didn’t know already? The professor’s depression, his desires, his planned departure; Conseil knew about all of it. After all, the professor had always said he was awfully perceptive.
Yet he didn’t do anything to stop it. Could he have? Deep down, he knew the professor would abandon him in the end. He would let himself be dragged into the depths, let his career and earthly life be carried off by the tide, if it meant he could spend the rest of his days on that god-forsaken ship.
Was it the ship that tempted him? No, it couldn’t be. It was the murderous madman who captained it, who’d bewitched the professor through maritime mystery and a promise of freedom from the law and burden of life on land. For Conseil knew he could remain by Monsieur’s side in the name of research, but a passionate flame between the professor and Captain Nemo would burn everything in its path.
He left him for the Captain, and no eloquent words on a piece of parchment would change that. Conseil rose from his bed and left the letter as his master had left him, forsaken and forgotten.
Conseil found himself standing on the jagged stone cliffs of Picardy’s coast, gazing hollowly at the open ocean. How he’d gotten there didn’t matter, just like how the professor hadn’t cared who helped him along his journey as much as he cared for the destination. He searched the horizon for just what his master had sacrificed his entire life for, but couldn’t find anything but Monsieur himself. The man he’d stood by for twelve years was in every drop of that basin.
He trudged to the end of the cliff, letting the sharp edge dig into the soles of his feet. The wind howled as the cold breeze bit his neck and ears. Conseil closed his eyes and fell forward, relishing in the lightness of his chest until he hit the black water with a sting to his face.
His figure plunged into the abyss, Conseil’s head pounded as saltwater filled his nose. The heaviness of his waist coat and trousers pulled him down, down, down . . .
He hoped the escaping ribbons of his aching soul would find their way to Monsieur, and he’d join him in their place in the sea. His throat tightened with the ocean’s death grip, and his lungs burned for air. But Conseil didn’t fight his fate.
Because the professor left him, but he would follow Monsieur wherever he went.