Around the World in 80 Days
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his fortune and his life. No! His servant would never forget that!
While each of the party was absorbed in reflections so different,
the sledge flew past over the vast carpet of snow.
The creeks it passed over were not perceived. Fields and streams
disappeared under the uniform whiteness. The plain was absolutely deserted.
Between the Union Pacific road and the branch which unites Kearney
with Saint Joseph it formed a great uninhabited island.
Neither village, station, nor fort appeared. From time to time
they sped by some phantom-like tree, whose white skeleton twisted
and rattled in the wind. Sometimes flocks of wild birds rose,
or bands of gaunt, famished, ferocious prairie-wolves ran howling
after the sledge. Passepartout, revolver in hand, held himself ready
to fire on those which came too near. Had an accident then happened
to the sledge, the travellers, attacked by these beasts, would have been
in the most terrible danger; but it held on its even course, soon gained
on the wolves, and ere long left the howling band at a safe distance behind.
About noon Mudge perceived by certain landmarks that he was
crossing the Platte River. He said nothing, but he felt certain
that he was now within twenty miles of Omaha. In less than an
hour he left the rudder and furled his sails, whilst the sledge,
carried forward by the great impetus the wind had given it,
went on half a mile further with its sails unspread.
It stopped at last, and Mudge, pointing to a mass of roofs
white with snow, said: "We have got there!"
Arrived! Arrived at the station which is in daily communication,
by numerous trains, with the Atlantic seaboard!
Passepartout and Fix jumped off, stretched their stiffened limbs,
and aided Mr. Fogg and the young woman to descend from the sledge.
Phileas Fogg generously rewarded Mudge, whose hand Passepartout
warmly grasped, and the party directed their steps to the Omaha
The Pacific Railroad proper finds its terminus at this
important Nebraska town. Omaha is connected with
Chicago by the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad,
which runs directly east, and passes fifty stations.
A train was ready to start when Mr. Fogg and his party reached
the station, and they only had time to get into the cars.
They had seen nothing of Omaha; but Passepartout confessed
to himself that this was not to be regretted, as they were not
travelling to see the sights.
The train passed rapidly across the State of Iowa, by Council Bluffs,
Des Moines, and Iowa City. During the night it crossed the Mississippi
at Davenport, and by Rock Island entered Illinois. The next day,
which was the 10th, at four o'clock in the evening, it reached Chicago,
already risen from its ruins, and more proudly seated than ever
on the borders of its beautiful Lake Michigan.
Nine hundred miles separated Chicago from New York; but trains
are not wanting at Chicago. Mr. Fogg passed at once from one
to the other, and the locomotive of the Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne,
and Chicago Railway left at full speed, as if it fully comprehended
that that gentleman had no time to lose. It traversed Indiana,
Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey like a flash, rushing through
towns with antique names, some of which had streets and car-tracks,
but as yet no houses. At last the Hudson came into view; and,
at a quarter-past eleven in the evening of the 11th,
the train stopped in the station on the right bank of the river,
before the very pier of the Cunard line.
The China, for Liverpool, had started three-quarters of an hour before!
IN WHICH PHILEAS FOGG ENGAGES IN A DIRECT STRUGGLE WITH BAD FORTUNE
The China, in leaving, seemed to have carried off Phileas Fogg's
last hope. None of the other steamers were able to serve his projects.
The Pereire, of the French Transatlantic Company, whose admirable steamers
are equal to any in speed and comfort, did not leave until the 14th;
the Hamburg boats did not go directly to Liverpool or London, but to Havre;
and the additional trip from Havre to Southampton would render Phileas Fogg's
last efforts of no avail. The Inman steamer did not depart till the next day,
and could not cross the Atlantic in time to save the wager.
Mr. Fogg learned all this in consulting his Bradshaw,
which gave him the daily movements of the trans-Atlantic steamers.
Passepartout was crushed; it overwhelmed him to lose the boat
by three-quarters of an hour. It was his fault, for,
instead of helping his master, he had not ceased putting obstacles
in his path! And when he recalled all the incidents of the tour,
when he counted up the sums expended in pure loss and on his own account,
when he thought that the immense stake, added to the heavy charges
of this useless journey, would completely ruin Mr. Fogg,
he overwhelmed himself with bitter self-accusations. Mr. Fogg,
however, did not reproach him; and, on leaving the Cunard pier,
only said: "We will consult about what is best to-morrow. Come."
The party crossed the Hudson in the Jersey City ferryboat,
and drove in a carriage to the St. Nicholas Hotel, on Broadway.
Rooms were engaged, and the night passed, briefly to Phileas Fogg,
who slept profoundly, but very long to Aouda and the others,
whose agitation did not permit them to rest.
The next day was the 12th of December. From seven in the morning
of the 12th to a quarter before nine in the evening of the 21st
there were nine days, thirteen hours, and forty-five minutes.
If Phileas Fogg had left in the China, one of the fastest steamers
on the Atlantic, he would have reached Liverpool, and then London,
within the period agreed upon.
Mr. Fogg left the hotel alone, after giving Passepartout instructions
to await his return, and inform Aouda to be ready at an instant's notice.
He proceeded to the banks of the Hudson, and looked about among the vessels
moored or anchored in the river, for any that were about to depart.
Several had departure signals, and were preparing to put to sea
at morning tide; for in this immense and admirable port there is not one day
in a hundred that vessels do not set out for every quarter of the globe.
But they were mostly sailing vessels, of which, of course, Phileas Fogg
could make no use.
He seemed about to give up all hope, when he espied, anchored at the Battery,
a cable's length off at most, a trading vessel, with a screw, well-shaped,
whose funnel, puffing a cloud of smoke, indicated that she was getting ready
Phileas Fogg hailed a boat, got into it, and soon found himself on board
the Henrietta, iron-hulled, wood-built above. He ascended to the deck,
and asked for the captain, who forthwith presented himself. He was a man
of fifty, a sort of sea-wolf, with big eyes, a complexion of oxidised copper,
red hair and thick neck, and a growling voice.
"The captain?" asked Mr. Fogg.
"I am the captain."
"I am Phileas Fogg, of London."
"And I am Andrew Speedy, of Cardiff."
"You are going to put to sea?"
"In an hour."
"You are bound for--"
"And your cargo?"
"No freight. Going in ballast."
"Have you any passengers?"
"No passengers. Never have passengers. Too much in the way."
"Is your vessel a swift one?"
"Between eleven and twelve knots. The Henrietta, well known."
"Will you carry me and three other persons to Liverpool?"
"To Liverpool? Why not to China?"
"I said Liverpool."
"No. I am setting out for Bordeaux, and shall go to Bordeaux."
"Money is no object?"
The captain spoke in a tone which did not admit of a reply.
"But the owners of the Henrietta--" resumed Phileas Fogg.
"The owners are myself," replied the captain. "The vessel belongs to me."
"I will freight it for you."
"I will buy it of you."
Phileas Fogg did not betray the least disappointment; but the
situation was a grave one. It was not at New York as at Hong Kong,
nor with the captain of the Henrietta as with the captain of the Tankadere.
Up to this time money had smoothed away every obstacle. Now money failed.
Still, some means must be found to cross the Atlantic on a boat,
unless by balloon--which would have been venturesome,
besides not being capable of being put in practice.