Around the World in 80 Days
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"All this is an evasion," cried Stamp Proctor. "Now or never!"
"Very good. You are going to New York?"
"What difference is it to you? Do you know Plum Creek?"
"No," replied Mr. Fogg.
"It's the next station. The train will be there in an hour,
and will stop there ten minutes. In ten minutes several
revolver-shots could be exchanged."
"Very well," said Mr. Fogg. "I will stop at Plum Creek."
"And I guess you'll stay there too," added the American insolently.
"Who knows?" replied Mr. Fogg, returning to the car as coolly as usual.
He began to reassure Aouda, telling her that blusterers were never
to be feared, and begged Fix to be his second at the approaching duel,
a request which the detective could not refuse. Mr. Fogg resumed
the interrupted game with perfect calmness.
At eleven o'clock the locomotive's whistle announced that they were
approaching Plum Creek station. Mr. Fogg rose, and, followed by Fix,
went out upon the platform. Passepartout accompanied him, carrying
a pair of revolvers. Aouda remained in the car, as pale as death.
The door of the next car opened, and Colonel Proctor appeared on the platform,
attended by a Yankee of his own stamp as his second. But just as the
combatants were about to step from the train, the conductor hurried up,
and shouted, "You can't get off, gentlemen!"
"Why not?" asked the colonel.
"We are twenty minutes late, and we shall not stop."
"But I am going to fight a duel with this gentleman."
"I am sorry," said the conductor; "but we shall be off at once.
There's the bell ringing now."
The train started.
"I'm really very sorry, gentlemen," said the conductor.
"Under any other circumstances I should have been happy to oblige you.
But, after all, as you have not had time to fight here,
why not fight as we go along?
"That wouldn't be convenient, perhaps, for this gentleman,"
said the colonel, in a jeering tone.
"It would be perfectly so," replied Phileas Fogg.
"Well, we are really in America," thought Passepartout,
"and the conductor is a gentleman of the first order!"
So muttering, he followed his master.
The two combatants, their seconds, and the conductor passed through
the cars to the rear of the train. The last car was only occupied
by a dozen passengers, whom the conductor politely asked if they would
not be so kind as to leave it vacant for a few moments, as two gentlemen
had an affair of honour to settle. The passengers granted the request
with alacrity, and straightway disappeared on the platform.
The car, which was some fifty feet long, was very convenient
for their purpose. The adversaries might march on each other
in the aisle, and fire at their ease. Never was duel more easily
arranged. Mr. Fogg and Colonel Proctor, each provided with two
six-barrelled revolvers, entered the car. The seconds, remaining
outside, shut them in. They were to begin firing at the first
whistle of the locomotive. After an interval of two minutes,
what remained of the two gentlemen would be taken from the car.
Nothing could be more simple. Indeed, it was all so simple
that Fix and Passepartout felt their hearts beating as if they
would crack. They were listening for the whistle agreed upon,
when suddenly savage cries resounded in the air, accompanied
by reports which certainly did not issue from the car where
the duellists were. The reports continued in front and the whole
length of the train. Cries of terror proceeded from the interior
of the cars.
Colonel Proctor and Mr. Fogg, revolvers in hand, hastily quitted
their prison, and rushed forward where the noise was most clamorous.
They then perceived that the train was attacked by a band of Sioux.
This was not the first attempt of these daring Indians, for more than
once they had waylaid trains on the road. A hundred of them had,
according to their habit, jumped upon the steps without stopping
the train, with the ease of a clown mounting a horse at full gallop.
The Sioux were armed with guns, from which came the reports,
to which the passengers, who were almost all armed, responded
The Indians had first mounted the engine, and half stunned
the engineer and stoker with blows from their muskets.
A Sioux chief, wishing to stop the train, but not knowing
how to work the regulator, had opened wide instead of closing
the steam-valve, and the locomotive was plunging forward
with terrific velocity.
The Sioux had at the same time invaded the cars, skipping like
enraged monkeys over the roofs, thrusting open the doors,
and fighting hand to hand with the passengers. Penetrating the
baggage-car, they pillaged it, throwing the trunks out of the train.
The cries and shots were constant. The travellers defended
themselves bravely; some of the cars were barricaded,
and sustained a siege, like moving forts, carried along
at a speed of a hundred miles an hour.
Aouda behaved courageously from the first. She defended herself
like a true heroine with a revolver, which she shot through the broken
windows whenever a savage made his appearance. Twenty Sioux had fallen
mortally wounded to the ground, and the wheels crushed those who fell
upon the rails as if they had been worms. Several passengers,
shot or stunned, lay on the seats.
It was necessary to put an end to the struggle, which had lasted
for ten minutes, and which would result in the triumph of the Sioux
if the train was not stopped. Fort Kearney station, where there was
a garrison, was only two miles distant; but, that once passed,
the Sioux would be masters of the train between Fort Kearney
and the station beyond.
The conductor was fighting beside Mr. Fogg, when he was shot and fell.
At the same moment he cried, "Unless the train is stopped in five minutes,
we are lost!"
"It shall be stopped," said Phileas Fogg, preparing to rush from the car.
"Stay, monsieur," cried Passepartout; "I will go."
Mr. Fogg had not time to stop the brave fellow, who, opening a door
unperceived by the Indians, succeeded in slipping under the car;
and while the struggle continued and the balls whizzed across each
other over his head, he made use of his old acrobatic experience,
and with amazing agility worked his way under the cars, holding on
to the chains, aiding himself by the brakes and edges of the sashes,
creeping from one car to another with marvellous skill,
and thus gaining the forward end of the train.
There, suspended by one hand between the baggage-car and the tender,
with the other he loosened the safety chains; but, owing to the traction,
he would never have succeeded in unscrewing the yoking-bar,
had not a violent concussion jolted this bar out. The train,
now detached from the engine, remained a little behind,
whilst the locomotive rushed forward with increased speed.
Carried on by the force already acquired, the train still moved
for several minutes; but the brakes were worked and at last they stopped,
less than a hundred feet from Kearney station.
The soldiers of the fort, attracted by the shots, hurried up;
the Sioux had not expected them, and decamped in a body before
the train entirely stopped.
But when the passengers counted each other on the station platform
several were found missing; among others the courageous Frenchman,
whose devotion had just saved them.
IN WHICH PHILEAS FOGG SIMPLY DOES HIS DUTY
Three passengers including Passepartout had disappeared. Had they been
killed in the struggle? Were they taken prisoners by the Sioux?
It was impossible to tell.
There were many wounded, but none mortally. Colonel Proctor was one
of the most seriously hurt; he had fought bravely, and a ball had entered
his groin. He was carried into the station with the other wounded passengers,
to receive such attention as could be of avail.
Aouda was safe; and Phileas Fogg, who had been in the thickest
of the fight, had not received a scratch. Fix was slightly
wounded in the arm. But Passepartout was not to be found,
and tears coursed down Aouda's cheeks.
All the passengers had got out of the train, the wheels
of which were stained with blood. From the tyres and spokes
hung ragged pieces of flesh. As far as the eye could reach
on the white plain behind, red trails were visible. The last Sioux
were disappearing in the south, along the banks of Republican River.
Mr. Fogg, with folded arms, remained motionless. He had a serious
decision to make. Aouda, standing near him, looked at him without speaking,