Around the World in 80 Days
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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 up on 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 Allahabad."
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 pounds sterling.
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,
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.