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IN WHICH PASSEPARTOUT TALKS RATHER MORE, PERHAPS, THAN IS PRUDENT
Fix 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?"
"Certainly, in Egypt."
"And 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 Pere la Chaise
and the circus in the Champs Elysees!"
"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.
"Yes, and in eighty days! He says it is on a wager; but, between us,
I don't believe a word of it. That wouldn't be common sense.
There's something else in the wind."
"Ah! Mr. Fogg is a character, is he?"
"I should say he was."
"Is he rich?"
"No doubt, for he is carrying an enormous sum in brand new
banknotes with him. And he doesn't spare the money on the way,
either: he has offered a large reward to the engineer of the
Mongolia if he gets us to Bombay well in advance of time."
"And you have known your master a long time?"
"Why, no; I entered his service the very day we left London."
The effect of these replies upon the already suspicious
and excited detective may be imagined. The hasty departure
from London soon after the robbery; the large sum carried by Mr. Fogg;
his eagerness to reach distant countries; the pretext of an
eccentric and foolhardy bet--all confirmed Fix in his theory.
He continued to pump poor Passepartout, and learned that he really
knew little or nothing of his master, who lived a solitary
existence in London, was said to be rich, though no one knew
whence came his riches, and was mysterious and impenetrable
in his affairs and habits. Fix felt sure that Phileas Fogg
would not land at Suez, but was really going on to Bombay.
"Is Bombay far from here?" asked Passepartout.
"Pretty far. It is a ten days' voyage by sea."
"And in what country is Bombay?"
"The deuce! I was going to tell you there's one thing that worries me--
"My gas-burner, which I forgot to turn off, and which is at
this moment burning at my expense. I have calculated, monsieur,
that I lose two shillings every four and twenty hours, exactly
sixpense more than I earn; and you will understand that the longer
Did Fix pay any attention to Passepartout's trouble about the gas?
It is not probable. He was not listening, but was cogitating a project.
Passepartout and he had now reached the shop, where Fix left his companion
to make his purchases, after recommending him not to miss the steamer,
and hurried back to the consulate. Now that he was fully convinced,
Fix had quite recovered his equanimity.
"Consul," said he, "I have no longer any doubt. I have spotted my man.
He passes himself off as an odd stick who is going round the world
in eighty days."
"Then he's a sharp fellow," returned the consul, "and counts on
returning to London after putting the police of the two countries
off his track."
"We'll see about that," replied Fix.
"But are you not mistaken?"
"I am not mistaken."
"Why was this robber so anxious to prove, by the visa,
that he had passed through Suez?"
"Why? I have no idea; but listen to me."
He reported in a few words the most important parts
of his conversation with Passepartout.
"In short," said the consul, "appearances are wholly against this man.
And what are you going to do?"
"Send a dispatch to London for a warrant of arrest to be dispatched
instantly to Bombay, take passage on board the Mongolia, follow my rogue
to India, and there, on English ground, arrest him politely, with my warrant
in my hand, and my hand on his shoulder."
Having uttered these words with a cool, careless air, the detective
took leave of the consul, and repaired to the telegraph office,
whence he sent the dispatch which we have seen to the London police office.
A quarter of an hour later found Fix, with a small bag in his hand,
proceeding on board the Mongolia; and, ere many moments longer,
the noble steamer rode out at full steam upon the waters of the Red Sea.