«AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS BY JULES VERNE TRANSLATED BY GEORGE MAKEPEACE TOWLE 7^WYS`f7Taa]e f7 COPYRIGHT INFORMATION Book: Around the World ...»
Two men were promenading up and down the wharves, among the crowd of natives and strangers who were sojourning at this once straggling village—now, thanks to the enterprise of M. Lesseps, a fast-growing town. One was the British consul at Suez, who, despite the prophecies of the English Government, and the unfavourable predictions of Stephenson, was in the habit of seeing, from his office window, English ships daily passing to and fro on the great canal, by which the old roundabout route from England to India by the Cape of Good Hope was abridged by at least a half. The other was a small, slight-built personage, with a nervous, intelligent face, and bright eyes peering out from under eyebrows which he was incessantly twitching. He was just now manifesting unmistakable signs of impatience, nervously pacing up and down, and unable to stand still for a moment. This was Fix, one of the detectives who had been despatched from England in search of the bank robber; it was his task to narrowly watch every passenger who arrived at Suez, and to follow up all who seemed to be suspicious characters, or bore a resemblance to the description of the criminal, which he had received two days before from the police headquarters at London. The detective was evidently inspired by the hope of obtaining the splendid reward which would be the prize of success, and awaited with a feverish impatience, easy to understand, the arrival of the steamer Mongolia.
“So you say, consul,” asked he for the twentieth time, “that this steamer is never behind time?” “No, Mr. Fix,” replied the consul. “She was bespoken yesterday at Port Said, and the rest of the way is of no account to such a craft. I repeat that the Mongolia has been in advance of the time required by the company’s regulations, and gained the prize awarded for excess of speed.” “Does she come directly from Brindisi?” “Directly from Brindisi; she takes on the Indian mails there, and she left there Saturday at five p.m. Have patience, Mr. Fix; she will not be late. But really I don’t see how, from the description you have, you will be able to recognize your man, even if he is on board the Mongolia.” “A man rather feels the presence of these fellows, consul, than recognizes them. You must have a scent for them, and a scent is like a sixth sense which combines hearing, seeing, and smelling. I’ve arrested more than one of these gentlemen in my time, and, if my thief is on board, I’ll answer for it, he’ll not slip through my fingers.” “I hope so, Mr. Fix, for it was a heavy robbery.” “A magnificent robbery, consul; fifty-five thousand pounds! We don’t often have such windfalls. Burglars are getting to be so contemptible nowadays! A fellow gets hung for a handful of shillings!” “Mr. Fix,” said the consul, “I like your way of talking, and hope you’ll succeed; but I fear you will find it far from easy. Don’t you see, the description which you have there has a singular resemblance to an honest man?” “Consul,” remarked the detective, dogmatically, “great robbers always resemble honest folks. Fellows who have rascally faces have only one course to take, and that is to remain honest; otherwise they would be arrested off-hand.
The artistic thing is, to unmask honest countenances; it’s no light task, I admit, but a real art.” Mr. Fix evidently was not wanting in a tinge of selfconceit.
Little by little the scene on the quay became more animated; sailors of various nations, merchants, ship-brokers, porters, fellahs, bustled to and fro as if the steamer were immediately expected. The weather was clear, and slightly chilly. The minarets of the town loomed above the houses in the pale rays of the sun. A jetty pier, some two thousand yards long, extended into the roadstead. A number of fishing-smacks and coasting boats, some retaining the fantastic fashion of ancient galleys, were discernible on the Red Sea.
As he passed among the busy crowd, Fix, according to habit, scrutinized the passers-by with a keen, rapid glance.
It was now half-past ten.
“The steamer doesn’t come!” he exclaimed, as the port clock struck.
“She can’t be far off now,” returned his companion.
“How long will she stop at Suez?” “Four hours; long enough to get in her coal. It is thirteen hundred and ten miles from Suez to Aden, at the other end of the Red Sea, and she has to take in a fresh coal supply.” “And does she go from Suez directly to Bombay?” “Without putting in anywhere.” “Good,” said Fix. “If the robber is on board, he will no doubt get off at Suez, so as to reach the Dutch or French colonies in Asia by some other route. He ought to know that he would not be safe an hour in India, which is English soil.” “Unless,” objected the consul, “he is exceptionally shrewd. An English criminal, you know, is always better concealed in London than anywhere else.” This observation furnished the detective food for thought, and meanwhile the consul went away to his office.
Fix, left alone, was more impatient than ever, having a presentiment that the robber was on board the Mongolia. If he had indeed left London intending to reach the New World, he would naturally take the route via India, which was less watched and more difficult to watch than that of the Atlantic. But Fix’s reflections were soon interrupted by a succession of sharp whistles, which announced the arrival of the Mongolia. The porters and fellahs rushed down the quay, and a dozen boats pushed off from the shore to go and meet the steamer. Soon her gigantic hull appeared passing along between the banks, and eleven o’clock struck as she anchored in the road. She brought an unusual number of passengers, some of whom remained on deck to scan the picturesque panorama of the town, while the greater part disembarked in the boats, and landed on the quay.
Fix took up a position, and carefully examined each face and figure which made its appearance. Presently one of the passengers, after vigorously pushing his way through the importunate crowd of porters, came up to him, and politely asked if he could point out the English consulate, at the same time showing a passport which he wished to have visaed. Fix instinctively took the passport, and with a rapid glance read the description of its bearer. An involuntary motion of surprise nearly escaped him, for the description in the passport was identical with that of the bank robber which he had received from Scotland Yard.
“Is this your passport?” asked he.
“No, it’s my master’s.” “And your master is—” “He stayed on board.” “But he must go to the consul’s in person, so as to establish his identity.” “Oh, is that necessary?” “Quite indispensable.” “And where is the consulate?” “There, on the corner of the square,” said Fix, pointing to a house two hundred steps off.
“I’ll go and fetch my master, who won’t be much pleased, however, to be disturbed.” The passenger bowed to Fix, and returned to the steamer.
CHAPTER VIIWhich once more demonstrates the uselessness of passports as aids to detectives T HE detective passed down the quay, and rapidly made his way to the consul’s office, where he was at once admitted to the presence of that official.
“Consul,” said he, without preamble, “I have strong reasons for believing that my man is a passenger on the Mongolia.” And he narrated what had just passed concerning the passport.
“Well, Mr. Fix,” replied the consul, “I shall not be sorry to see the rascal’s face; but perhaps he won’t come here,— that is, if he is the person you suppose him to be. A robber doesn’t quite like to leave traces of his flight behind him; and besides, he is not obliged to have his passport countersigned.” “If he is as shrewd as I think he is, consul, he will come.” “To have his passport visaed?” “Yes. Passports are only good for annoying honest folks, and aiding in the flight of rogues. I assure you it will be quite the thing for him to do; but I hope you will not visa the passport.” “Why not? If the passport is genuine, I have no right to refuse.” “Still I must keep this man here until I can get a warrant to arrest him from London.” “Ah, that’s your look-out. But I cannot—” The consul did not finish his sentence, for as he spoke a knock was heard at the door, and two strangers entered, one of whom was the servant whom Fix had met on the quay.
The other, who was his master, held out his passport with the request that the consul would do him the favour to visa it.
The consul took the document and carefully read it, whilst Fix observed, or rather devoured, the stranger with his eyes from a corner of the room.
“You are Mr. Phileas Fogg?” said the consul, after reading the passport.
“I am.” “And this man is your servant?” “He is; a Frenchman, named Passepartout.” “You are from London?” “Yes.” “And you are going—” “To Bombay.” “Very good, sir. You know that a visa is useless, and that no passport is required?” “I know it, sir,” replied Phileas Fogg; “but I wish to prove, by your visa, that I came by Suez.” “Very well, sir.” The consul proceeded to sign and date the passport, after which he added his official seal. Mr. Fogg paid the customary fee, coldly bowed, and went out, followed by his servant.
“Well?” queried the detective.
“Well, he looks and acts like a perfectly honest man,” replied the consul.
“Possibly; but that is not the question. Do you think, consul, that this phlegmatic gentleman resembles, feature by feature, the robber whose description I have received?” “I concede that; but then, you know, all descriptions—” “I’ll make certain of it,” interrupted Fix. “The servant seems to me less mysterious than the master; besides, he’s a Frenchman, and can’t help talking. Excuse me for a little while, consul.” Fix started off in search of Passepartout.
Meanwhile Mr. Fogg, after leaving the consulate, repaired to the quay, gave some orders to Passepartout, went off to the Mongolia in a boat, and descended to his cabin. He took up his note-book, which contained the following memoranda:— “Left London, Wednesday, October 2nd, at 8.45 p.m.
“Reached Paris, Thursday, October 3rd, at 7.20 a.m.
“Left Paris, Thursday, at 8.40 a.m.
“Reached Turin by Mont Cenis, Friday, October 4th, at
“Left Turin, Friday, at 7.20 a.m.
“Arrived at Brindisi, Saturday, October 5th, at 4 p.m.
“Sailed on the Mongolia, Saturday, at 5 p.m.
“Reached Suez, Wednesday, October 9th, at 11 a.m.
“Total of hours spent, 158½; or, in days, six days and a half.” These dates were inscribed in an itinerary divided into columns, indicating the month, the day of the month, and the day for the stipulated and actual arrivals at each principal point,—Paris, Brindisi, Suez, Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, New York, and London,—from the 2nd of October to the 21st of December;
and giving a space for setting down the gain made or the loss suffered on arrival of each locality. This methodical record thus contained an account of everything needed, and Mr.
Fogg always knew whether he was behindhand or in advance of his time. On this Friday, October 9th, he noted his arrival at Suez, and observed that he had as yet neither gained nor lost. He sat down quietly to breakfast in his cabin, never once thinking of inspecting the town, being one of those Englishmen who are wont to see foreign countries through the eyes of their domestics.
CHAPTER VIIIIn which Passepartout talks rather more, perhaps, than is prudent F IX soon rejoined Passepartout, who was lounging and looking about on the quay, as if he did not feel that he, at least, was obliged not to see anything.
“Well, my friend,” said the detective, coming up with him, “is your passport visaed?” “Ah, it’s you, is it, monsieur?” responded Passepartout.
“Thanks, yes, the passport is all right.” “And you are looking about you?” “Yes; but we travel so fast that I seem to be journeying in a dream. So this is Suez?” “Yes.” “In Egypt?” “Certainly, in Egypt.” “And in Africa?” “In Africa.” “In Africa!” repeated Passepartout. “Just think, monsieur, I had no idea that we should go farther than Paris; and all that I saw of Paris was between twenty minutes past seven and twenty minutes before nine in the morning, between the Northern and the Lyons stations, through the windows of a car, and in a driving rain! How I regret not having seen once more Père la Chaise and the circus in the Champs Elysées!” “You are in a great hurry, then?” “I am not, but my master is. By the way, I must buy some shoes and shirts. We came away without trunks, only with a carpet-bag.” “I will show you an excellent shop for getting what you want.” “Really, monsieur, you are very kind.” And they walked off together, Passepartout chatting volubly as they went along.
“Above all,” said he; “don’t let me lose the steamer.” “You have plenty of time; it’s only twelve o’clock.” Passepartout pulled out his big watch. “Twelve!” he exclaimed; “why it’s only eight minutes before ten.” “Your watch is slow.” “My watch? A family watch, monsieur, which has come down from my great-grandfather! It doesn’t vary five minutes in the year, it’s a perfect chronometer, look you.” “I see how it is,” said Fix. “You have kept London time, which is two hours behind that of Suez. You ought to regulate your watch at noon in each country.” “I regulate my watch? Never!” “Well, then, it will not agree with the sun.” “So much the worse for the sun, monsieur. The sun will be wrong, then!” And the worthy fellow returned the watch to its fob with a defiant gesture. After a few minutes silence, Fix resumed: “You left London hastily, then?” “I rather think so! Last Friday at eight o’clock in the evening, Monsieur Fogg came home from his club, and three quarters of an hour afterwards we were off.” “But where is your master going?” “Always straight ahead. He is going round the world.” “Round the world?” cried Fix.