IN WHICH PHILEAS FOGG SECURES A CURIOUS MEANS OF CONVEYANCE AT A
The train had started punctually. Among the passengers were a number
of officers, Government officials, and opium and indigo merchants,
whose business called them to the eastern coast. Passepartout rode in
the same carriage with his master, and a third passenger occupied a
seat opposite to them. This was Sir Francis Cromarty, one of Mr.
Fogg's whist partners on the Mongolia, now on his way to join his corps
at Benares. Sir Francis was a tall, fair man of fifty, who had greatly
distinguished himself in the last Sepoy revolt. He made India his
home, only paying brief visits to England at rare intervals; and was
almost as familiar as a native with the customs, history, and character
of India and its people. But Phileas Fogg, who was not travelling, but
only describing a circumference, took no pains to inquire into these
subjects; he was a solid body, traversing an orbit around the
terrestrial globe, according to the laws of rational mechanics. He was
at this moment calculating in his mind the number of hours spent since
his departure from London, and, had it been in his nature to make a
useless demonstration, would have rubbed his hands for satisfaction.
Sir Francis Cromarty had observed the oddity of his travelling
companion—although the only opportunity he had for studying him had
been while he was dealing the cards, and between two rubbers—and
questioned himself whether a human heart really beat beneath this cold
exterior, and whether Phileas Fogg had any sense of the beauties of
nature. The brigadier-general was free to mentally confess that, of
all the eccentric persons he had ever met, none was comparable to this
product of the exact sciences.
Phileas Fogg had not concealed from Sir Francis his design of going
round the world, nor the circumstances under which he set out; and the
general only saw in the wager a useless eccentricity and a lack of
sound common sense. In the way this strange gentleman was going on, he
would leave the world without having done any good to himself or
An hour after leaving Bombay the train had passed the viaducts and the
Island of Salcette, and had got into the open country. At Callyan they
reached the junction of the branch line which descends towards
south-eastern India by Kandallah and Pounah; and, passing Pauwell, they
entered the defiles of the mountains, with their basalt bases, and
their summits crowned with thick and verdant forests. Phileas Fogg and
Sir Francis Cromarty exchanged a few words from time to time, and now
Sir Francis, reviving the conversation, observed, "Some years ago, Mr.
Fogg, you would have met with a delay at this point which would
probably have lost you your wager."
"How so, Sir Francis?"
"Because the railway stopped at the base of these mountains, which the
passengers were obliged to cross in palanquins or on ponies to
Kandallah, on the other side."
"Such a delay would not have deranged my plans in the least," said Mr.
Fogg. "I have constantly foreseen the likelihood of certain obstacles."
"But, Mr. Fogg," pursued Sir Francis, "you run the risk of having some
difficulty about this worthy fellow's adventure at the pagoda."
Passepartout, his feet comfortably wrapped in his travelling-blanket,
was sound asleep and did not dream that anybody was talking about him.
"The Government is very severe upon that kind of offence. It takes
particular care that the religious customs of the Indians should be
respected, and if your servant were caught—"
"Very well, Sir Francis," replied Mr. Fogg; "if he had been caught he
would have been condemned and punished, and then would have quietly
returned to Europe. I don't see how this affair could have delayed his
The conversation fell again. During the night the train left the
mountains behind, and passed Nassik, and the next day proceeded over
the flat, well-cultivated country of the Khandeish, with its straggling
villages, above which rose the minarets of the pagodas. This fertile
territory is watered by numerous small rivers and limpid streams,
mostly tributaries of the Godavery.
Passepartout, on waking and looking out, could not realise that he was
actually crossing India in a railway train. The locomotive, guided by
an English engineer and fed with English coal, threw out its smoke upon
cotton, coffee, nutmeg, clove, and pepper plantations, while the steam
curled in spirals around groups of palm-trees, in the midst of which
were seen picturesque bungalows, viharis (sort of abandoned
monasteries), and marvellous temples enriched by the exhaustless
ornamentation of Indian architecture. Then they came upon vast tracts
extending to the horizon, with jungles inhabited by snakes and tigers,
which fled at the noise of the train; succeeded by forests penetrated
by the railway, and still haunted by elephants which, with pensive
eyes, gazed at the train as it passed. The travellers crossed, beyond
Milligaum, the fatal country so often stained with blood by the
sectaries of the goddess Kali. Not far off rose Ellora, with its
graceful pagodas, and the famous Aurungabad, capital of the ferocious
Aureng-Zeb, now the chief town of one of the detached provinces of the
kingdom of the Nizam. It was thereabouts that Feringhea, the Thuggee
chief, king of the stranglers, held his sway. These ruffians, united
by a secret bond, strangled victims of every age in honour of the
goddess Death, without ever shedding blood; there was a period when
this part of the country could scarcely be travelled over without
corpses being found in every direction. The English Government has
succeeded in greatly diminishing these murders, though the Thuggees
still exist, and pursue the exercise of their horrible rites.
At half-past twelve the train stopped at Burhampoor where Passepartout
was able to purchase some Indian slippers, ornamented with false
pearls, in which, with evident vanity, he proceeded to encase his feet.
The travellers made a hasty breakfast and started off for Assurghur,
after skirting for a little the banks of the small river Tapty, which
empties into the Gulf of Cambray, near Surat.
Passepartout was now plunged into absorbing reverie. Up to his arrival
at Bombay, he had entertained hopes that their journey would end there;
but, now that they were plainly whirling across India at full speed, a
sudden change had come over the spirit of his dreams. His old vagabond
nature returned to him; the fantastic ideas of his youth once more took
possession of him. He came to regard his master's project as intended
in good earnest, believed in the reality of the bet, and therefore in
the tour of the world and the necessity of making it without fail
within the designated period. Already he began to worry about possible
delays, and accidents which might happen on the way. He recognised
himself as being personally interested in the wager, and trembled at
the thought that he might have been the means of losing it by his
unpardonable folly of the night before. Being much less cool-headed
than Mr. Fogg, he was much more restless, counting and recounting the
days passed over, uttering maledictions when the train stopped, and
accusing it of sluggishness, and mentally blaming Mr. Fogg for not
having bribed the engineer. The worthy fellow was ignorant that, while
it was possible by such means to hasten the rate of a steamer, it could
not be done on the railway.
The train entered the defiles of the Sutpour Mountains, which separate
the Khandeish from Bundelcund, towards evening. The next day Sir
Francis Cromarty asked Passepartout what time it was; to which, on
consulting his watch, he replied that it was three in the morning.
This famous timepiece, always regulated on the Greenwich meridian,
which was now some seventy-seven degrees westward, was at least four
hours slow. Sir Francis corrected Passepartout's time, whereupon the
latter made the same remark that he had done to Fix; and upon the
general insisting that the watch should be regulated in each new
meridian, since he was constantly going eastward, that is in the face
of the sun, and therefore the days were shorter by four minutes for
each degree gone over, Passepartout obstinately refused to alter his
watch, which he kept at London time. It was an innocent delusion which
could harm no one.
The train stopped, at eight o'clock, in the midst of a glade some
fifteen miles beyond Rothal, where there were several bungalows, and
workmen's cabins. The conductor, passing along the carriages, shouted,
"Passengers will get out here!"
Phileas Fogg looked at Sir Francis Cromarty for an explanation; but the
general could not tell what meant a halt in the midst of this forest of
dates and acacias.
Passepartout, not less surprised, rushed out and speedily returned,
crying: "Monsieur, no more railway!"
"What do you mean?" asked Sir Francis.
"I mean to say that the train isn't going on."
The general at once stepped out, while Phileas Fogg calmly followed
him, and they proceeded together to the conductor.
"Where are we?" asked Sir Francis.
"At the hamlet of Kholby."
"Do we stop here?"
"Certainly. The railway isn't finished."
"What! not finished?"
"No. There's still a matter of fifty miles to be laid from here to
Allahabad, where the line begins again."
"But the papers announced the opening of the railway throughout."
"What would you have, officer? The papers were mistaken."
"Yet you sell tickets from Bombay to Calcutta," retorted Sir Francis,
who was growing warm.
"No doubt," replied the conductor; "but the passengers know that they
must provide means of transportation for themselves from Kholby to
Sir Francis was furious. Passepartout would willingly have knocked the
conductor down, and did not dare to look at his master.
"Sir Francis," said Mr. Fogg quietly, "we will, if you please, look
about for some means of conveyance to Allahabad."
"Mr. Fogg, this is a delay greatly to your disadvantage."
"No, Sir Francis; it was foreseen."
"What! You knew that the way—"
"Not at all; but I knew that some obstacle or other would sooner or
later arise on my route. Nothing, therefore, is lost. I have two days,
which I have already gained, to sacrifice. A steamer leaves Calcutta
for Hong Kong at noon, on the 25th. This is the 22nd, and we shall
reach Calcutta in time."
There was nothing to say to so confident a response.
It was but too true that the railway came to a termination at this
point. The papers were like some watches, which have a way of getting
too fast, and had been premature in their announcement of the
completion of the line. The greater part of the travellers were aware
of this interruption, and, leaving the train, they began to engage such
vehicles as the village could provide four-wheeled palkigharis, waggons
drawn by zebus, carriages that looked like perambulating pagodas,
palanquins, ponies, and what not.
Mr. Fogg and Sir Francis Cromarty, after searching the village from end
to end, came back without having found anything.
"I shall go afoot," said Phileas Fogg.
Passepartout, who had now rejoined his master, made a wry grimace, as
he thought of his magnificent, but too frail Indian shoes. Happily he
too had been looking about him, and, after a moment's hesitation, said,
"Monsieur, I think I have found a means of conveyance."
"An elephant! An elephant that belongs to an Indian who lives but a
hundred steps from here."
"Let's go and see the elephant," replied Mr. Fogg.
They soon reached a small hut, near which, enclosed within some high
palings, was the animal in question. An Indian came out of the hut,
and, at their request, conducted them within the enclosure. The
elephant, which its owner had reared, not for a beast of burden, but
for warlike purposes, was half domesticated. The Indian had begun
already, by often irritating him, and feeding him every three months on
sugar and butter, to impart to him a ferocity not in his nature, this
method being often employed by those who train the Indian elephants for
battle. Happily, however, for Mr. Fogg, the animal's instruction in
this direction had not gone far, and the elephant still preserved his
natural gentleness. Kiouni—this was the name of the beast—could
doubtless travel rapidly for a long time, and, in default of any other
means of conveyance, Mr. Fogg resolved to hire him. But elephants are
far from cheap in India, where they are becoming scarce, the males,
which alone are suitable for circus shows, are much sought, especially
as but few of them are domesticated. When therefore Mr. Fogg proposed
to the Indian to hire Kiouni, he refused point-blank. Mr. Fogg
persisted, offering the excessive sum of ten pounds an hour for the
loan of the beast to Allahabad. Refused. Twenty pounds? Refused
also. Forty pounds? Still refused. Passepartout jumped at each
advance; but the Indian declined to be tempted. Yet the offer was an
alluring one, for, supposing it took the elephant fifteen hours to
reach Allahabad, his owner would receive no less than six hundred
Phileas Fogg, without getting in the least flurried, then proposed to
purchase the animal outright, and at first offered a thousand pounds
for him. The Indian, perhaps thinking he was going to make a great
bargain, still refused.
Sir Francis Cromarty took Mr. Fogg aside, and begged him to reflect
before he went any further; to which that gentleman replied that he was
not in the habit of acting rashly, that a bet of twenty thousand pounds
was at stake, that the elephant was absolutely necessary to him, and
that he would secure him if he had to pay twenty times his value.
Returning to the Indian, whose small, sharp eyes, glistening with
avarice, betrayed that with him it was only a question of how great a
price he could obtain. Mr. Fogg offered first twelve hundred, then
fifteen hundred, eighteen hundred, two thousand pounds. Passepartout,
usually so rubicund, was fairly white with suspense.
At two thousand pounds the Indian yielded.
"What a price, good heavens!" cried Passepartout, "for an elephant."
It only remained now to find a guide, which was comparatively easy. A
young Parsee, with an intelligent face, offered his services, which Mr.
Fogg accepted, promising so generous a reward as to materially
stimulate his zeal. The elephant was led out and equipped. The
Parsee, who was an accomplished elephant driver, covered his back with
a sort of saddle-cloth, and attached to each of his flanks some
curiously uncomfortable howdahs. Phileas Fogg paid the Indian with
some banknotes which he extracted from the famous carpet-bag, a
proceeding that seemed to deprive poor Passepartout of his vitals.
Then he offered to carry Sir Francis to Allahabad, which the brigadier
gratefully accepted, as one traveller the more would not be likely to
fatigue the gigantic beast. Provisions were purchased at Kholby, and,
while Sir Francis and Mr. Fogg took the howdahs on either side,
Passepartout got astride the saddle-cloth between them. The Parsee
perched himself on the elephant's neck, and at nine o'clock they set
out from the village, the animal marching off through the dense forest
of palms by the shortest cut.