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Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea by Jules Verne
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and the peculiar life with which it seemed endowed. If it was a whale,
it surpassed in size all those hitherto classified in science.
Taking into consideration the mean of observations made at divers times--
rejecting the timid estimate of those who assigned to this object
a length of two hundred feet, equally with the exaggerated opinions
which set it down as a mile in width and three in length--we might fairly
conclude that this mysterious being surpassed greatly all dimensions
admitted by the learned ones of the day, if it existed at all.
And that it DID exist was an undeniable fact; and, with that tendency
which disposes the human mind in favour of the marvellous, we can understand
the excitement produced in the entire world by this supernatural apparition.
As to classing it in the list of fables, the idea was out of the question.

On the 20th of July, 1866, the steamer Governor Higginson,
of the Calcutta and Burnach Steam Navigation Company, had met
this moving mass five miles off the east coast of Australia.
Captain Baker thought at first that he was in the presence of an
unknown sandbank; he even prepared to determine its exact position
when two columns of water, projected by the mysterious object,
shot with a hissing noise a hundred and fifty feet up into the air.
Now, unless the sandbank had been submitted to the intermittent
eruption of a geyser, the Governor Higginson had to do neither
more nor less than with an aquatic mammal, unknown till then,
which threw up from its blow-holes columns of water mixed with
air and vapour.

Similar facts were observed on the 23rd of July in the same year,
in the Pacific Ocean, by the Columbus, of the West India
and Pacific Steam Navigation Company. But this extraordinary
creature could transport itself from one place to another