HAVING WON TWENTY GUINEAS AT WHIST, AND TAKEN LEAVE of his friends, Phileas Fogg, at twenty-five minutes past seven, left the Reform Club.
Passepartout, who had conscientiously studied the programme of his duties, was more than surprised to see his master guilty of the inexactness of appearing at this unaccustomed hour; for, according to rule, he was not due in Saville Row until precisely midnight.
Mr. Fogg repaired to his bedroom, and called out, “Passepartout!”
Passepartout did not reply. It could not be he who was called; it was not the right hour.
“Passepartout!” repeated Mr. Fogg, without raising his voice.
Passepartout made his appearance.
“I’ve called you twice,” observed his master.
“But it is not midnight,” responded the other, showing his watch.
“I know it; I don’t blame you. We start for Dover and Calais in ten minutes.”
A puzzled grin overspread Passepartout’s round face; clearly he had not comprehended his master.
“Monsieur is going to leave home?”
“Yes,” returned Phileas Fogg. “We are going round the world.”
Passepartout opened wide his eyes, raised his eyebrows, held up his hands, and seemed about to collapse, so overcome was he with stupefied astonishment.
“Round the world!” he murmured.
“In eighty days,” responded Mr. Fogg. “So we haven’t a moment to lose.”
“But the trunks?” gasped Passepartout, unconsciously swaying his head from right to left.
“We’ll have no trunks; only a carpet-bag, with two shirts and three pairs of stockings for me, and the same for you. We’ll buy our clothes on the way. Bring down my mackintosh and travelling-cloak, and some stout shoes, though we shall do little walking. Make haste!”
Passepartout tried to reply, but could not. He went out, mounted to his own room, fell into a chair; and muttered: “That’s good, that is! And I, who wanted to remain quiet!”
He mechanically set about making the preparations for departure. Around the world in eighty days! Was his master a fool! Was this a joke, then? They were going to Dover; good! To Calais; good again. After all, Passepartout, who had been away from France five years, would not be sorry to set foot on his native soil again. Perhaps they would go as far as Paris, and it would do his eyes good to see Paris once more. But surely a gentleman so chary of his steps would stop there; no doubt—but, then, it was none the less true that he was going away, this so domestic person hitherto!
By eight o’clock Passepartout had packed the modest carpet-bag, containing the wardrobes of his master and himself; then, still troubled in mind, he carefully shut the door of his room, and descended to Mr. Fogg.
Mr. Fogg was quite ready. Under his arm might have been observed a red-bound copy of “Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Steam Transit and General Guide,” with
its time-tables showing the arrival and departure of steamers and railways. He took the carpet-bag, opened it, and slipped into it a goodly roll of Bank of England notes, which would pass wherever he might go.
“You have forgotten nothing?” asked he.
“My mackintosh and cloak?”
“Here they are.”
“Good. Take this carpet-bag,” handing it to Passepartout. “Take good care of it, for there are twenty thousand pounds in it.”
Passepartout nearly dropped the bag, as if the twenty thousand pounds were in gold, and weighed him down.
Master and man then descended, the street-door was double-locked, and at the end of Saville Row they took a cab and drove rapidly to Charing Cross. The cab stopped before the railway station at twenty minutes past eight. Passepartout jumped off the box and followed his master, who, after paying the cabman, was about to enter the station, when a poor beggar-woman, with a child in her arms, her naked feet smeared with mud, her head covered with a wretched bonnet, from which hung a tattered feather, and her shoulders shrouded in a ragged shawl, approached, and mournfully asked for alms.
Mr. Fogg took out the twenty guineas he had just won at whist, and handed them to the beggar, saying, “Here, my good woman. I’m glad that I met you;” and passed on.
Passepartout had a moist sensation about the eyes; his master’s action touched his susceptible heart.
Two first-class tickets for Paris having been speedily purchased, Mr. Fogg was crossing the station to the train, when he perceived his five friends of the Reform.
“Well, gentlemen,” said he, “I’m off, you see; and if you will examine my passport when I get back, you will be able to judge whether I have accomplished the journey agreed upon.”
“Oh, that would be quite unnecessary, Mr. Fogg,” said Ralph politely. “We will trust your word, as a gentleman of honour.”
“You do not forget when you are due in London again?” asked Stuart.
“In eighty days; on Saturday, the 21st of December, 1872, at a quarter before nine p.m. Good-bye, gentlemen.” Phileas Fogg and his servant seated themselves in a first-class carriage at twenty minutes before nine; five minutes later the whistle screamed, and the train slowly glided out of the station.
The night was dark, and a fine, steady rain was falling. Phileas Fogg, snugly ensconced in his corner, did not open his lips. Passepartout, not yet recovered from his stupefaction, clung mechanically to the carpet-bag, with its enormous treasure.
Just as the train was whirling through Sydenham, Passepartout suddenly uttered a cry of despair.
“What’s the matter?” asked Mr. Fogg.
“Alas! In my hurry—I—I forgot—”
“To turn off the gas in my room!”
“Very well, young man,” returned Mr. Fogg, coolly; “it will burn—at your expense.”
PHILEAS FOGG RIGHTLY SUSPECTED THAT HIS DEPARTURE from London would create a lively sensation at the West End. The news of the bet spread through the Reform Club, and afforded an exciting topic of conversation to its members. From the Club it soon got into the papers throughout
England. The boasted “tour of the world” was talked about, disputed, argued with as much warmth as if the subject were another Alabama claim. Some took sides with Phileas Fogg, but the large majority shook their heads and declared against him; it was absurd, impossible, they declared, that the tour of the world could be made, except theoretically and on paper, in this minimum of time, and with the existing means of travelling. The
Times, Standard, Morning Post
, and twenty other highly respectable newspapers scouted Mr. Fogg’s project as madness; the
alone hesitatingly supported him. People in general thought him a lunatic, and blamed his Reform Club friends for having accepted a wager which betrayed the mental aberration of its proposer.
Articles no less passionate than logical appeared on the question, for geography is one of the pet subjects of the English; and the columns devoted to Phileas Fogg’s venture were eagerly devoured by all classes of readers. At first some rash individuals, principally of the gentler sex, espoused his cause, which became still more popular when the
Illustrated London News
came out with his portrait, copied from a photograph in the Reform Club. A few readers of the
even dared to say, “Why not, after all? Stranger things have come to pass.”
At last a long article appeared, on the 7th of October, in the bulletin of the Royal Geographical Society, which treated the question from every point of view, and demonstrated the utter folly of the enterprise.
Everything, it said, was against the travellers, every obstacle imposed alike by man and by nature. A miraculous agreement of the times of departure and arrival, which was impossible, was absolutely necessary to his success. He might, perhaps, reckon on the arrival of trains at the designated hours, in Europe, where the distances were relatively moderate; but when he calculated upon crossing India in three days, and the United
States in seven, could he rely beyond misgiving upon accomplishing his task? There were accidents to machinery, the liability of trains to run off the line, collisions, bad weather, the blocking up by snow,—were not all these against Phileas Fogg? Would he not find himself, when travelling by steamer in winter, at the mercy of the winds and fogs? Is it uncommon for the best ocean steamers to be two or three days behind time? But a single delay would suffice to fatally break the chain of communication; should Phileas Fogg once miss, even by an hour, a steamer, he would have to wait for the next, and that would irrevocably render his attempt vain.
This article made a great deal of noise, and being copied into all the papers, seriously depressed the advocates of the rash tourist.
Everybody knows that England is the world of betting men, who are of a higher class than mere gamblers; to bet is in the English temperament. Not only the members of the Reform, but the general public, made heavy wagers for or against Phileas Fogg, who was set down in the betting books as if he were a race-horse. Bonds were issued, and made their appearance on ’Change; “Phileas Fogg bonds” were offered at par or at a premium, and a great business was done in them. But five days after the article in the bulletin of the Geographical Society appeared, the demand began to subside: “Phileas Fogg” declined. They were offered by packages, at first of five, then of ten, until at last nobody would take less than twenty, fifty, a hundred!
Lord Albermarle, an elderly paralytic gentleman, was now the only advocate of Phileas Fogg left. This noble lord, who was fastened to his chair, would have given his fortune to be able to make the tour of the world, if it took ten years; and he bet five thousand pounds on Phileas Fogg. When the folly as well as the uselessness of the adventure was pointed out to him, he contented himself
with replying, “If the thing is feasible, the first to do it ought to be an Englishman.”
The Fogg party dwindled more and more, everybody was going against him, and the bets stood a hundred and fifty and two hundred to one; and a week after his departure, an incident occurred which deprived him of backers at any price.
The commissioner of police was sitting in his office at nine o’clock one evening, when the following telegraphic despatch was put into his hands:—
Suez to London.
ROWAN, COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, SCOTLAND YARD: I’ve found the bank robber, Phileas Fogg. Send without delay warrant of arrest to Bombay.
The effect of this despatch was instantaneous. The polished gentleman disappeared to give place to the bank robber. His photograph, which was hung with those of the rest of the members at the Reform Club, was minutely examined, and it betrayed, feature by feature, the description of the robber which had been provided to the police. The mysterious habits of Phileas Fogg were recalled; his solitary ways, his sudden departure; and it seemed clear that, in undertaking a tour round the world on the pretext of a wager, he had had no other end in view than to elude the detectives, and throw them off his track.
THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THIS TELEGRAPHIC despatch about Phileas Fogg was sent were as follows:—
The steamer “Mongolia,” belonging to the Peninsula and Oriental Company, built of iron, of two thousand eight hundred tons burden, and five hundred horse-power, was due at eleven o’clock a.m. on Wednesday, the 9th of October, at Suez. The “Mongolia” plied regularly between Brindisi and Bombay
the Suez Canal, and was one of the fastest steamers belonging to the company, always making more than ten knots an hour between Brindisi and Suez, and nine and a half between Suez and Bombay.
Two men were promenading up and down the wharves, among the crowd of natives and strangers who were sojourning at this once straggling village—now, thanks to the enterprise of M. Lesseps, a fast-growing town. One was the British consul at Suez, who, despite the prophecies of the English Government, and the unfavourable predictions of Stephenson, was in the habit of seeing, from his office window, English ships daily passing to and fro on the great canal, by which the old roundabout route from England to India by the Cape of Good Hope was abridged by at least a half. The other was a small, slight-built personage, with a nervous, intelligent face, and bright eyes peering out from under eyebrows which he was incessantly twitching. He was just now manifesting unmistakable signs of impatience, nervously pacing up and down, and unable to stand still for a moment. This was Fix, one of the detectives who had been despatched
from England in search of the bank robber; it was his task to narrowly watch every passenger who arrived at Suez, and to follow up all who seemed to be suspicious characters, or bore a resemblance to the description of the criminal, which he had received two days before from the police headquarters at London. The detective was evidently inspired by the hope of obtaining the splendid reward which would be the prize of success, and awaited with a feverish impatience, easy to understand, the arrival of the steamer “Mongolia.”
“So you say, consul,” asked he for the twentieth time, “that this steamer is never behind time?”
“No, Mr. Fix,” replied the consul. “She was bespoken yesterday at Port Said, and the rest of the way is of no account to such a craft. I repeat that the ‘Mongolia’ has been in advance of the time required by the company’s regulations, and gained the prize awarded for excess of speed.”
“Does she come directly from Brindisi?”
“Directly from Brindisi; she takes on the Indian mails there, and she left there Saturday at five p.m. Have patience, Mr. Fix; she will not be late. But really I don’t see how, from the description you have, you will be able to recognize your man, even if he is on board the ‘Mongolia.’”
“A man rather feels the presence of these fellows, consul, than recognizes them. You must have a scent for them, and a scent is like a sixth sense which combines hearing, seeing, and smelling. I’ve arrested more than one of these gentlemen in my time, and if my thief is on board, I’ll answer for it, he’ll not slip through my fingers.”
“I hope so, Mr. Fix, for it was a heavy robbery.”
“A magnificent robbery, consul; fifty-five thousand pounds! We don’t often have such windfalls. Burglars are getting to be so contemptible nowadays! A fellow gets hung for a handful of shillings!”
“Mr. Fix,” said the consul, “I like your way of talking,
and hope you’ll succeed; but I fear you will find it far from easy. Don’t you see, the description which you have there has a singular resemblance to an honest man?”
“Consul,” remarked the detective, dogmatically, “great robbers
resemble honest folks. Fellows who have rascally faces have only one course to take, and that is to remain honest; otherwise they would be arrested offhand. The artistic thing is, to unmask honest countenances; it’s no light task, I admit, but a real art.”
Mr. Fix evidently was not wanting in a tinge of self-conceit.
Little by little the scene on the quay became more animated; sailors of various nations, merchants, ship-brokers, porters, fellahs, bustled to and fro as if the steamer were immediately expected. The weather was clear, and slightly chilly. The minarets of the town loomed above the houses in the pale rays of the sun. A jetty pier, some two thousand yards long, extended into the roadstead. A number of fishing-smacks and coasting boats, some retaining the fantastic fashion of ancient galleys, were discernible on the Red Sea.
As he passed among the busy crowd, Fix, according to habit, scrutinized the passers-by with a keen, rapid glance.
It was now half-past ten.
“The steamer doesn’t come!” he exclaimed, as the port clock struck.
“She can’t be far off now,” returned his companion.
“How long will she stop at Suez?”
“Four hours; long enough to get in her coal. It is thirteen hundred and ten miles from Suez to Aden, at the other end of the Red Sea, and she has to take in a fresh coal supply.”
“And does she go from Suez directly to Bombay?”
“Without putting in anywhere.”
“Good,” said Fix. “If the robber is on board, he will no doubt get off at Suez, so as to reach the Dutch or French colonies in Asia by some other route. He ought
to know that he would not be safe an hour in India, which is English soil.”
“Unless,” objected the consul, “he is exceptionally shrewd. An English criminal, you know, is always better concealed in London than anywhere else.”
This observation furnished the detective food for thought, and meanwhile the consul went away to his office. Fix, left alone, was more impatient than ever, having a presentiment that the robber was on board the “Mongolia.” If he had indeed left London intending to reach the New World, he would naturally take the route
India, which was less watched and more difficult to watch than that of the Atlantic. But Fix’s reflections were soon interrupted by a succession of sharp whistles, which announced the arrival of the “Mongolia.” The porters and fellahs rushed down the quay, and a dozen boats pushed off from the shore to go and meet the steamer. Soon her gigantic hull appeared passing along between the banks, and eleven o’clock struck as she anchored in the road. She brought an unusual number of passengers, some of whom remained on deck to scan the picturesque panorama of the town, while the greater part disembarked in the boats, and landed on the quay.
Fix took up a position, and carefully examined each face and figure which made its appearance. Presently one of the passengers, after vigorously pushing his way through the importunate crowd of porters, came up to him, and politely asked if he could point out the English consulate, at the same time showing a passport which he wished to have
. Fix instinctively took the passport, and with a rapid glance read the description of its bearer. An involuntary motion of surprise nearly escaped him, for the description in the passport was identical with that of the bank robber which he had received from Scotland Yard.
“Is this your passport?” asked he.
“No, it’s my master’s.”
“And your master is—”
“He stayed on board.”
“But he must go to the consul’s in person, so as to establish his identity.”
“Oh, is that necessary?”
“And where is the consulate?”
“There, on the corner of the square,” said Fix, pointing to a house two hundred steps off.
“I’ll go and fetch my master, who won’t be much pleased, however, to be disturbed.”
The passenger bowed to Fix, and returned to the steamer.