Read Around the World in Eighty Days Online

Authors: Jules Verne

Tags: #Retail, #Personal

Around the World in Eighty Days (4 page)

THE DETECTIVE PASSED DOWN THE QUAY, AND RAPIDLY made his way to the consul’s office, where he was at once admitted to the presence of that official.
“Consul,” said he, without preamble, “I have strong reasons for believing that my man is a passenger on the ‘Mongolia.’” And he narrated what had just passed concerning the passport.
“Well, Mr. Fix,” replied the consul, “I shall not be sorry to see the rascal’s face; but perhaps he won’t come here,—that is, if he is the person you suppose him to be. A robber doesn’t quite like to leave traces of his flight behind him; and besides, he is not obliged to have his passport countersigned.”
“If he is as shrewd as I think he is, consul, he will come.
“To have his passport visaed?”
“Yes. Passports are only good for annoying honest folks, and aiding in the flight of rogues. I assure you it will be quite the thing for him to do; but I hope you will not
visa
the passport.”
“Why not? If the passport is genuine, I have no right to refuse.”
“Still I must keep this man here until I can get a warrant to arrest him from London.”
“Ah, that’s your look-out. But I cannot—”
The consul did not finish his sentence, for as he spoke a knock was heard at the door, and two strangers entered, one of whom was the servant whom Fix had met on the quay. The other, who was his master, held out his passport with the request that the consul would do him the favour to visa it. The consul took the document and carefully read it, whilst Fix observed, or rather devoured, the stranger with his eyes from a corner of the room.
“You are Mr. Phileas Fogg?” said the consul, after reading the passport.
“I am.”
“And this man is your servant?”
“He is; a Frenchman, named Passepartout.”
“You are from London?”
“Yes.”
“And you are going—”
“To Bombay.”
“Very good, sir. You know that a visa is useless, and that no passport is required?”
“I know it, sir,” replied Phileas Fogg; “but I wish to prove, by your visa, that I came by Suez.”
“Very well, sir.”
The consul proceeded to sign and date the passport, after which he added his official seal. Mr. Fogg paid the customary fee, coldly bowed, and went out, followed by his servant.
“Well?” queried the detective.
“Well, he looks and acts like a perfectly honest man,” replied the consul.
“Possibly; but that is not the question. Do you think, consul, that this phlegmatic gentleman resembles, feature by feature, the robber whose description I have received?”
“I concede that; but then, you know, all descriptions—”
“I’ll make certain of it,” interrupted Fix. “The servant seems to me less mysterious than the master; besides, he’s a Frenchman, and can’t help talking. Excuse me for a little while, consul.”
Fix started off in search of Passepartout.
Meanwhile Mr. Fogg, after leaving the consulate, repaired to the quay, gave some orders to Passepartout, went off to the “Mongolia” in a boat, and descended to his cabin. He took up his note-book, which contained the following memoranda:—
“Left London, Wednesday, October 2nd, at 8.45 p.m.
“Reached Paris, Thursday, October 3rd, at 7.20 a.m.
“Left Paris, Thursday, at 8.40 a.m.
“Reached Turin by Mont Cenis, Friday, October 4th, at 6.35 a.m.
“Left Turin, Friday, at 7.20 a.m.
“Arrived at Brindisi, Saturday, October 5th, at 4 p.m.
“Sailed on the ‘Mongolia,’ Saturday, at 5 p.m.
“Reached Suez, Wednesday, October 9th, at 11 a.m.
“Total of hours spent, 158½; or, in days, six days and a half.”
These dates were inscribed in an itinerary divided into columns, indicating the month, the day of the month, and the day for the stipulated and actual arrivals at each principal point,—Paris, Brindisi, Suez, Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, New York, and London,—from the 2nd of October to the 21st of December; and giving a space for setting down the gain made or the loss suffered on arrival of each locality. This methodical record thus contained an
account of everything needed, and Mr. Fogg always knew whether he was behindhand or in advance of his time. On this Friday, October 9th, he noted his arrival at Suez, and observed that he had as yet neither gained nor lost. He sat down quietly to breakfast in his cabin, never once thinking of inspecting the town, being one of those Englishmen who are wont to see foreign countries through the eyes of their domestics.
FIX SOON REJOINED PASSEPARTOUT, WHO WAS LOUNGING and looking about on the quay, as if he did not feel that he, at least, was obliged not to see anything.
“Well, my friend,” said the detective, coming up with him, “is your passport
visaed
?”
“Ah, it’s you, is it, monsieur?” responded Passepartout. “Thanks, yes, the passport is all right.”
“And you are looking about you?”
“Yes; but we travel so fast that I seem to be journeying in a dream. So this is Suez?”
“Yes.”
“In Egypt?”
“Certainly, in Egypt.”
“And in Africa?”
“In Africa.”
“In Africa!” repeated Passepartout. “Just think, monsieur, I had no idea that we should go farther than Paris; and all that I saw of Paris was between twenty minutes past seven and twenty minutes before nine in the morning, between the Northern and the Lyons stations, through the windows of a car, and in a driving rain! How I regret
not having seen once more Père la Chaise and the circus in the Champs Elysées!”
“You are in a great hurry, then?”
“I am not, but my master is. By the way, I must buy some shoes and shirts. We came away without trunks, only with a carpet-bag.”
“I will show you an excellent shop for getting what you want.”
“Really, monsieur, you are very kind.”
And they walked off together, Passepartout chatting volubly as they went along.
“Above all,” said he, “don’t let me lose the steamer.”
“You have plenty of time; it’s only twelve o’clock.”
Passepartout pulled out his big watch. “Twelve!” he exclaimed; “why it’s only eight minutes before ten.”
“Your watch is slow.”
“My watch? A family watch, monsieur, which has come down from my great-grandfather! It doesn’t vary five minutes in the year, it’s a perfect chronometer, look you.”
“I see how it is,” said Fix. “You have kept London time, which is two hours behind that of Suez. You ought to regulate your watch at noon in each country.”
“I regulate my watch? Never!”
“Well, then, it will not agree with the sun.”
“So much the worse for the sun, monsieur. The sun will be wrong, then!”
And the worthy fellow returned the watch to its fob with a defiant gesture. After a few minutes’ silence, Fix resumed: “You left London hastily, then?”
“I rather think so! Last Friday at eight o’clock in the evening, Monsieur Fogg came home from his club, and three quarters of an hour afterwards we were off.”
“But where is your master going?”
“Always straight ahead. He is going round the world.”
“Round the world?” cried Fix.
“Yes, and in eighty days! He says it is on a wager; but,
between us, I don’t believe a word of it. That wouldn’t be common sense. There’s something else in the wind.”
“Ah! Mr. Fogg is a character, is he?”
“I should say he was.”
“Is he rich?”
“No doubt, for he is carrying an enormous sum in brand-new bank notes with him. And he doesn’t spare the money on the way, either: he has offered a large reward to the engineer of the ‘Mongolia’ if he gets us to Bombay well in advance of time.”
“And you have known your master a long time?”
“Why, no; I entered his service the very day we left London.”
The effect of these replies upon the already suspicious and excited detective may be imagined. The hasty departure from London soon after the robbery; the large sum carried by Mr. Fogg; his eagerness to reach distant countries; the pretext of an eccentric and foolhardy bet,—at! confirmed Fix in his theory. He continued to pump poor Passepartout, and learned that he really knew little or nothing of his master, who lived a solitary existence in London, was said to be rich, though no one knew whence came his riches, and was mysterious and impenetrable in his affairs and habits. Fix felt sure that Phileas Fogg would not land at Suez, but was really going on to Bombay.
“Is Bombay far from here?” asked Passepartout.
“Pretty far. It is a ten days’ voyage by sea.”
“And in what country is Bombay?”
“India.”
“In Asia?”
“Certainly.”
“The deuce! I was going to tell you,—there’s one thing that worries me,—my burner!”
“What burner?”
“My gas-burner, which I forgot to turn off, and which is at this moment burning—at my expense. I have calculated,
monsieur, that I lose two shillings every four and twenty hours, exactly sixpence more than I earn; and you will understand that the longer our journey—”
Did Fix pay any attention to Passepartout’s trouble about the gas? It is not probable. He was not listening, but was cogitating a project. Passepartout and he had now reached the shop, where Fix left his companion to make his purchases, after recommending him not to miss the steamer, and hurried back to the consulate. Now that he was fully convinced, Fix had quite recovered his equanimity.
“Consul,” said he, “I have no longer any doubt. I have spotted my man. He passes himself off as an odd stick, who is going round the world in eighty days.”
“Then he’s a sharp fellow,” returned the consul, “and counts on returning to London after putting the police of the two continents off his track.”
“We’ll see about that,” replied Fix.
“But are you not mistaken?”
“I am not mistaken.”
“Why was this robber so anxious to prove, by the visa, that he had passed through Suez?”
“Why? I have no idea; but listen to me.”
He reported in a few words the most important parts of his conversation with Passepartout.
“In short,” said the consul, “appearances are wholly against this man. And what are you going to do?”
“Send a despatch to London for a warrant of arrest to be despatched instantly to Bombay, take passage on board the ‘Mongolia,’ follow my rogue to India, and there, on English ground, arrest him politely, with my warrant in my hand, and my hand on his shoulder.”
Having uttered these words with a cool, careless air, the detective took leave of the consul, and repaired to the telegraph office, whence he sent the despatch which we have seen to the London police office. A quarter of an
hour later found Fix, with a small bag in his hand, proceeding on board the “Mongolia;” and ere many moments longer, the notable steamer rode out at full steam upon the waters of the Red Sea.
THE DISTANCE BETWEEN SUEZ AND ADEN IS PRECISELY thirteen hundred and ten miles, and the regulations of the company allow the steamers one hundred and thirty-eight hours in which to traverse it. The “Mongolia,” thanks to the vigorous exertions of the engineer, seemed likely, so rapid was her speed, to reach her destination considerably within that time. The greater part of the passengers from Brindisi were bound for India—some for Bombay, others for Calcutta by way of Bombay, the nearest route thither, now that a railway crosses the Indian peninsula. Among the passengers was a number of officials and military officers of various grades, the latter being either attached to the regular British forces, or commanding the Sepoy troops and receiving high salaries ever since the central government has assumed the powers of the East India Company; for the sub-lieutenants get 280
l.
, brigadiers, 2400
l.
, and generals of division, 4000l. What with the military men, a number of rich young Englishmen on their travels, and the hospitable efforts of the purser, the time passed quickly on the “Mongolia.” The best of fare was spread upon the cabin tables at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the eight o’clock supper, and the ladies scrupulously changed their toilets twice a day; and the hours were whiled away, when the sea was tranquil, with music, dancing, and games.
But the Red Sea is full of caprice, and often boisterous, like most long and narrow gulfs. When the wind came from the African or Asian coast, the “Mongolia,” with her long hull, rolled fearfully. Then the ladies speedily disappeared below; the pianos were silent; singing and dancing suddenly ceased. Yet the good ship ploughed straight on, unretarded by wind or wave, towards the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. What was Phileas Fogg doing all this time? It might be thought that, in his anxiety, he would be constantly watching the changes of the wind, the disorderly raging of the billows—every chance, in short, which might force the “Mongolia” to slacken her speed, and thus interrupt his journey. But if he thought of these possibilities, he did not betray the fact by any outward sign.
Always the same impassable member of the Reform Club, whom no incident could surprise, as unvarying as the ship’s chronometers, and seldom having the curiosity even to go upon the deck, he passed through the memorable scenes of the Red Sea with cold indifference; did not care to recognize the historic towns and villages which, along its borders, raised their picturesque outlines against the sky; and betrayed no fear of the dangers of the Arabic Gulf, which the old historians always spoke of with horror, and upon which the ancient navigators never ventured without propitiating the gods by ample sacrifices. How did this eccentric personage pass his time on the “Mongolia”? He made his four hearty meals every day, regardless of the most persistent rolling and pitching on the part of the steamer; and he played whist indefatigably, for he had found partners as enthusiastic in the game as himself. A tax-collector, on the way to his post at Goa; the Rev. Decimus Smith, returning to his parish at Bombay; and a brigadier-general of the English army, who was about to rejoin his brigade at Benares, made up the party, and, with Mr. Fogg, played whist by the hour together in absorbing silence.
As for Passepartout, he, too, had escaped sea-sickness, and took his meals conscientiously in the forward cabin. He rather enjoyed the voyage, for he was well fed and well lodged, took a great interest in the scenes through which they were passing, and consoled himself with the delusion that his master’s whim would end at Bombay. He was pleased, on the day after leaving Suez, to find on deck the obliging person with whom he had walked and chatted on the quays.
“If I am not mistaken,” said he, approaching this person with his most amiable smile, “you are the gentleman who so kindly volunteered to guide me at Suez?”
“Ah! I quite recognize you. You are the servant of the strange Englishman—”
“Just so, Monsieur—”
“Fix.”
“Monsieur Fix,” resumed Passepartout, “I’m charmed to find you on board. Where are you bound?”
“Like you, to Bombay.”
“That’s capital! Have you made this trip before?”
“Several times. I am one of the agents of the Peninsula Company.”
“Then you know India?”
“Why—yes,” replied Fix, who spoke cautiously.
“A curious place, this India?”
“Oh, very curious. Mosques, minarets, temples, fakirs, pagodas, tigers, snakes, elephants! I hope you will have ample time to see the sights.”
“I hope so, Monsieur Fix. You see, a man of sound sense ought not to spend his life jumping from a steamer upon a railway train, and from a railway train upon a steamer again, pretending to make the tour of the world in eighty days! No; all these gymnastics, you may be sure, will cease at Bombay.”
“And Mr. Fogg is getting on well?” asked Fix, in the most natural tone in the world.
“Quite well, and I too. I eat like a famished ogre; it’s the sea air.”
“But I never see your master on deck.”
“Never; he hasn’t the least curiosity.”
“Do you know, Mr. Passepartout, that this pretended tour in eighty days may conceal some secret errand—perhaps a diplomatic mission?”
“Faith, Monsieur Fix, I assure you I know nothing about it, nor would I give half-a-crown to find out.”
After this meeting, Passepartout and Fix got into the habit of chatting together, the latter making it a point to gain the worthy man’s confidence. He frequently offered him a glass of whiskey or pale ale in the steamer barroom, which Passepartout never failed to accept with graceful alacrity, mentally pronouncing Fix the best of good fellows.
Meanwhile the “Mongolia” was pushing forward rapidly; on the 13th, Mocha, surrounded by its ruined walls whereon date-trees were growing, was sighted, and on the mountains beyond were espied vast coffee-fields. Passepartout was ravished to behold this celebrated place, and thought that, with its circular walls and dismantled fort, it looked like an immense coffee cup and saucer. The following night they passed through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, which means in Arabic “The Bridge of Tears,” and the next day they put in at Steamer Point, northwest of Aden harbour, to take in coal. This matter of fuelling steamers is a serious one at such distances from the coal mines; it costs the Peninsula Company some eight hundred thousand pounds a year. In these distant seas, coal is worth three or four pounds sterling a ton.
The “Mongolia” had still sixteen hundred and fifty miles to traverse before reaching Bombay, and was obliged to remain four hours at Steamer Point to coal up. But this delay, as it was foreseen, did not affect Phileas Fogg’s programme; besides, the “Mongolia,” instead of reaching Aden on the morning of the 15th, when she was due,
arrived there on the evening of the 14th, a gain of fifteen hours.
Mr. Fogg and his servant went ashore at Aden to have the passport again visaed; Fix, unobserved, followed them. The visa procured, Mr. Fogg returned on board to resume his former habits; while Passepartout, according to custom, sauntered about among the mixed population of Somanlis, Banyans, Parsees, Jews, Arabs, and Europeans who comprise the twenty-five thousand inhabitants of Aden. He gazed with wonder upon the fortifications which make this place the Gibraltar of the Indian Ocean, and the vast cisterns where the English engineers were still at work, two thousand years after the engineers of Solomon.
“Very curious, very curious,” said Passepartout to himself, on returning to the steamer. “I see that it is by no means useless to travel, if a man wants to see something new.” At six p.m. the “Mongolia” slowly moved out of the roadstead, and was soon once more on the Indian Ocean. She had a hundred and sixty-eight hours in which to reach Bombay, and the sea was favourable, the wind being in the north-west, and all sails aiding the engine. The steamer rolled but little, the ladies, in fresh toilets, reappeared on deck, and the singing and dancing were resumed. The trip was being accomplished most successfully, and Passepartout was enchanted with the congenial companion which chance had secured him in the person of the delightful Fix. On Sunday, October 20th, towards noon, they came in sight of the Indian coast: two hours later the pilot came on board. A range of hills lay against the sky in the horizon, and soon the rows of palms which adorn Bombay came distinctly into view. The steamer entered the road formed by the islands in the bay, and at half-past four she hauled up at the quays of Bombay.
Phileas Fogg was in the act of finishing the thirty-third rubber of the voyage, and his partner and himself having,
by a bold stroke, captured all thirteen of the tricks, concluded this fine campaign with a brilliant victory.
The “Mongolia” was due at Bombay on the 22nd; she arrived on the 20th. This was a gain to Phileas Fogg of two days since his departure from London, and he calmly entered the fact in the itinerary, in the column of gains.

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