Around the World in 80 Days
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 Next page
comprising Europeans and natives, Chinese and Japanese, men, women
and children, who precipitated themselves upon the narrow benches
and into the boxes opposite the stage. The musicians took up a position
inside, and were vigorously performing on their gongs, tam-tams, flutes,
bones, tambourines, and immense drums.
The performance was much like all acrobatic displays; but it must be
confessed that the Japanese are the first equilibrists in the world.
One, with a fan and some bits of paper, performed the graceful
trick of the butterflies and the flowers; another traced in the air,
with the odorous smoke of his pipe, a series of blue words,
which composed a compliment to the audience; while a third juggled
with some lighted candles, which he extinguished successively
as they passed his lips, and relit again without interrupting
for an instant his juggling. Another reproduced the most singular
combinations with a spinning-top; in his hands the revolving tops
seemed to be animated with a life of their own in their
interminable whirling; they ran over pipe-stems, the edges of sabres,
wires and even hairs stretched across the stage; they turned around
on the edges of large glasses, crossed bamboo ladders, dispersed into
all the corners, and produced strange musical effects by the combination
of their various pitches of tone. The jugglers tossed them in the air,
threw them like shuttlecocks with wooden battledores, and yet they kept
on spinning; they put them into their pockets, and took them out
still whirling as before.
It is useless to describe the astonishing performances of the acrobats
and gymnasts. The turning on ladders, poles, balls, barrels, &c.,
was executed with wonderful precision.
But the principal attraction was the exhibition of the Long Noses,
a show to which Europe is as yet a stranger.
The Long Noses form a peculiar company, under the direct patronage
of the god Tingou. Attired after the fashion of the Middle Ages,
they bore upon their shoulders a splendid pair of wings;
but what especially distinguished them was the long noses
which were fastened to their faces, and the uses which they made of them.
These noses were made of bamboo, and were five, six, and even ten feet long,
some straight, others curved, some ribboned, and some having imitation warts
upon them. It was upon these appendages, fixed tightly on their real noses,
that they performed their gymnastic exercises. A dozen of these sectaries
of Tingou lay flat upon their backs, while others, dressed to represent
lightning-rods, came and frolicked on their noses, jumping from one to another,
and performing the most skilful leapings and somersaults.
As a last scene, a "human pyramid" had been announced, in which
fifty Long Noses were to represent the Car of Juggernaut.
But, instead of forming a pyramid by mounting each other's shoulders,
the artists were to group themselves on top of the noses.
It happened that the performer who had hitherto formed the base
of the Car had quitted the troupe, and as, to fill this part,
only strength and adroitness were necessary, Passepartout
had been chosen to take his place.
The poor fellow really felt sad when--melancholy reminiscence
of his youth!--he donned his costume, adorned with vari-coloured wings,
and fastened to his natural feature a false nose six feet long.
But he cheered up when he thought that this nose was winning
him something to eat.
He went upon the stage, and took his place beside the rest
who were to compose the base of the Car of Juggernaut.
They all stretched themselves on the floor, their noses pointing
to the ceiling. A second group of artists disposed themselves on
these long appendages, then a third above these, then a fourth,
until a human monument reaching to the very cornices of the theatre
soon arose on top of the noses. This elicited loud applause,
in the midst of which the orchestra was just striking up a deafening air,
when the pyramid tottered, the balance was lost, one of the lower
noses vanished from the pyramid, and the human monument was
shattered like a castle built of cards!
It was Passepartout's fault. Abandoning his position,
clearing the footlights without the aid of his wings, and,
clambering up to the right-hand gallery, he fell at the feet of
one of the spectators, crying, "Ah, my master! my master!"
"Very well; then let us go to the steamer, young man!"
Mr. Fogg, Aouda, and Passepartout passed through the lobby
of the theatre to the outside, where they encountered
the Honourable Mr. Batulcar, furious with rage. He demanded damages
for the "breakage" of the pyramid; and Phileas Fogg appeased him
by giving him a handful of banknotes.
At half-past six, the very hour of departure, Mr. Fogg and Aouda,
followed by Passepartout, who in his hurry had retained his wings,
and nose six feet long, stepped upon the American steamer.
DURING WHICH MR. FOGG AND PARTY CROSS THE PACIFIC OCEAN
What happened when the pilot-boat came in sight of Shanghai will
be easily guessed. The signals made by the Tankadere had been
seen by the captain of the Yokohama steamer, who, espying the flag
at half-mast, had directed his course towards the little craft.
Phileas Fogg, after paying the stipulated price of his passage to
John Busby, and rewarding that worthy with the additional sum of
five hundred and fifty pounds, ascended the steamer with Aouda
and Fix; and they started at once for Nagasaki and Yokohama.
They reached their destination on the morning of the 14th of November.
Phileas Fogg lost no time in going on board the Carnatic, where he learned,
to Aouda's great delight--and perhaps to his own, though he betrayed
no emotion--that Passepartout, a Frenchman, had really arrived on her
the day before.
The San Francisco steamer was announced to leave that very evening,
and it became necessary to find Passepartout, if possible, without delay.
Mr. Fogg applied in vain to the French and English consuls, and,
after wandering through the streets a long time, began to despair
of finding his missing servant. Chance, or perhaps a kind of presentiment,
at last led him into the Honourable Mr. Batulcar's theatre. He certainly
would not have recognised Passepartout in the eccentric mountebank's costume;
but the latter, lying on his back, perceived his master in the gallery.
He could not help starting, which so changed the position of his nose
as to bring the "pyramid" pell-mell upon the stage.
All this Passepartout learned from Aouda, who recounted to him
what had taken place on the voyage from Hong Kong to Shanghai
on the Tankadere, in company with one Mr. Fix.
Passepartout did not change countenance on hearing this name.
He thought that the time had not yet arrived to divulge to his
master what had taken place between the detective and himself;
and, in the account he gave of his absence, he simply excused himself
for having been overtaken by drunkenness, in smoking opium
at a tavern in Hong Kong.
Mr. Fogg heard this narrative coldly, without a word; and then
furnished his man with funds necessary to obtain clothing more
in harmony with his position. Within an hour the Frenchman had
cut off his nose and parted with his wings, and retained nothing
about him which recalled the sectary of the god Tingou.
The steamer which was about to depart from Yokohama to San Francisco
belonged to the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and was named
the General Grant. She was a large paddle-wheel steamer
of two thousand five hundred tons; well equipped and very fast.
The massive walking-beam rose and fell above the deck;
at one end a piston-rod worked up and down; and at the other
was a connecting-rod which, in changing the rectilinear motion
to a circular one, was directly connected with the shaft of the paddles.
The General Grant was rigged with three masts, giving a large capacity
for sails, and thus materially aiding the steam power. By making
twelve miles an hour, she would cross the ocean in twenty-one days.
Phileas Fogg was therefore justified in hoping that he would reach
San Francisco by the 2nd of December, New York by the 11th,
and London on the 20th--thus gaining several hours on the fatal date
of the 21st of December.
There was a full complement of passengers on board, among them English,
many Americans, a large number of coolies on their way to California,
and several East Indian officers, who were spending their vacation
in making the tour of the world. Nothing of moment happened on the voyage;
the steamer, sustained on its large paddles, rolled but little,
and the Pacific almost justified its name. Mr. Fogg was as calm
and taciturn as ever. His young companion felt herself more and more
attached to him by other ties than gratitude; his silent but generous nature
impressed her more than she thought; and it was almost unconsciously that
she yielded to emotions which did not seem to have the least effect upon
her protector. Aouda took the keenest interest in his plans, and became
impatient at any incident which seemed likely to retard his journey.
She often chatted with Passepartout, who did not fail to perceive
the state of the lady's heart; and, being the most faithful of domestics,
he never exhausted his eulogies of Phileas Fogg's honesty, generosity,
and devotion. He took pains to calm Aouda's doubts of a successful
termination of the journey, telling her that the most difficult part
of it had passed, that now they were beyond the fantastic countries
of Japan and China, and were fairly on their way to civilised places again.
A railway train from San Francisco to New York, and a transatlantic steamer
from New York to Liverpool, would doubtless bring them to the end of this
impossible journey round the world within the period agreed upon.
On the ninth day after leaving Yokohama, Phileas Fogg had traversed exactly
one half of the terrestrial globe. The General Grant passed, on the 23rd
of November, the one hundred and eightieth meridian, and was at the very
antipodes of London. Mr. Fogg had, it is true, exhausted fifty-two
of the eighty days in which he was to complete the tour, and there were
only twenty-eight left. But, though he was only half-way by the
difference of meridians, he had really gone over two-thirds of the
whole journey; for he had been obliged to make long circuits from
London to Aden, from Aden to Bombay, from Calcutta to Singapore,
and from Singapore to Yokohama. Could he have followed without
deviation the fiftieth parallel, which is that of London,
the whole distance would only have been about twelve thousand miles;
whereas he would be forced, by the irregular methods of locomotion,
to traverse twenty-six thousand, of which he had, on the 23rd of November,