FictionForest

Chapter 22

Jules VerneNov 03, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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In which Passepartout finds out that, even at the Antipodes,
it is convenient to have some money in one’s pocket

The Carnatic, setting sail from Hong Kong at half-past six on the
7th of November, directed her course at full steam towards Japan.
She carried a large cargo and a well-filled cabin of passengers.
Two state-rooms in the rear were, however, unoccupied–those which
had been engaged by Phileas Fogg.

The next day a passenger with a half-stupefied eye, staggering gait,
and disordered hair, was seen to emerge from the second cabin,
and to totter to a seat on deck.

It was Passepartout; and what had happened to him was as follows:
Shortly after Fix left the opium den, two waiters had lifted
the unconscious Passepartout, and had carried him to the bed
reserved for the smokers. Three hours later, pursued even
in his dreams by a fixed idea, the poor fellow awoke,
and struggled against the stupefying influence of the narcotic.
The thought of a duty unfulfilled shook off his torpor,
and he hurried from the abode of drunkenness.
Staggering and holding himself up by keeping against the walls,
falling down and creeping up again, and irresistibly impelled
by a kind of instinct, he kept crying out, “The Carnatic! the Carnatic!”

The steamer lay puffing alongside the quay, on the point of starting.
Passepartout had but few steps to go; and, rushing upon the plank,
he crossed it, and fell unconscious on the deck, just as the Carnatic
was moving off. Several sailors, who were evidently accustomed
to this sort of scene, carried the poor Frenchman down into the second cabin,
and Passepartout did not wake until they were one hundred and fifty miles
away from China. Thus he found himself the next morning on the deck
of the Carnatic, and eagerly inhaling the exhilarating sea-breeze.
The pure air sobered him. He began to collect his sense, which he found
a difficult task; but at last he recalled the events of the evening before,
Fix’s revelation, and the opium-house.

“It is evident,” said he to himself, “that I have been abominably drunk!
What will Mr. Fogg say? At least I have not missed the steamer,
which is the most important thing.”

Then, as Fix occurred to him: “As for that rascal, I hope we
are well rid of him, and that he has not dared, as he proposed,
to follow us on board the Carnatic. A detective on the track
of Mr. Fogg, accused of robbing the Bank of England! Pshaw!
Mr. Fogg is no more a robber than I am a murderer.”

Should he divulge Fix’s real errand to his master? Would it
do to tell the part the detective was playing. Would it not be
better to wait until Mr. Fogg reached London again, and then
impart to him that an agent of the metropolitan police had been
following him round the world, and have a good laugh over it?
No doubt; at least, it was worth considering. The first thing to
do was to find Mr. Fogg, and apologise for his singular behaviour.

Passepartout got up and proceeded, as well as he could with
the rolling of the steamer, to the after-deck. He saw no one
who resembled either his master or Aouda. “Good!” muttered he;
“Aouda has not got up yet, and Mr. Fogg has probably found some
partners at whist.”

He descended to the saloon. Mr. Fogg was not there.
Passepartout had only, however, to ask the purser the number
of his master’s state-room. The purser replied that he
did not know any passenger by the name of Fogg.

“I beg your pardon,” said Passepartout persistently. “He is a tall gentleman,
quiet, and not very talkative, and has with him a young lady–”

“There is no young lady on board,” interrupted the purser.
“Here is a list of the passengers; you may see for yourself.”

Passepartout scanned the list, but his master’s name was not upon it.
All at once an idea struck him.

“Ah! am I on the Carnatic?”

“Yes.”

“On the way to Yokohama?”

“Certainly.”

Passepartout had for an instant feared that he was on the wrong boat;
but, though he was really on the Carnatic, his master was not there.

He fell thunderstruck on a seat. He saw it all now.
He remembered that the time of sailing had been changed,
that he should have informed his master of that fact,
and that he had not done so. It was his fault, then,
that Mr. Fogg and Aouda had missed the steamer.
Yes, but it was still more the fault of the traitor who,
in order to separate him from his master, and detain
the latter at Hong Kong, had inveigled him into getting drunk!
He now saw the detective’s trick; and at this moment Mr. Fogg
was certainly ruined, his bet was lost, and he himself perhaps
arrested and imprisoned! At this thought Passepartout tore his hair.
Ah, if Fix ever came within his reach, what a settling of accounts
there would be!

After his first depression, Passepartout became calmer,
and began to study his situation. It was certainly not
an enviable one. He found himself on the way to Japan,
and what should he do when he got there? His pocket was empty;
he had not a solitary shilling not so much as a penny.
His passage had fortunately been paid for in advance;
and he had five or six days in which to decide upon his future course.
He fell to at meals with an appetite, and ate for Mr. Fogg, Aouda,
and himself. He helped himself as generously as if Japan were a desert,
where nothing to eat was to be looked for.

At dawn on the 13th the Carnatic entered the port of Yokohama.
This is an important port of call in the Pacific, where all the
mail-steamers, and those carrying travellers between North America,
China, Japan, and the Oriental islands put in. It is situated
in the bay of Yeddo, and at but a short distance from that
second capital of the Japanese Empire, and the residence of the Tycoon,
the civil Emperor, before the Mikado, the spiritual Emperor,
absorbed his office in his own. The Carnatic anchored at the quay
near the custom-house, in the midst of a crowd of ships bearing
the flags of all nations.

Passepartout went timidly ashore on this so curious territory
of the Sons of the Sun. He had nothing better to do than,
taking chance for his guide, to wander aimlessly through the streets
of Yokohama. He found himself at first in a thoroughly European quarter,
the houses having low fronts, and being adorned with verandas,
beneath which he caught glimpses of neat peristyles. This quarter occupied,
with its streets, squares, docks, and warehouses, all the space between
the “promontory of the Treaty” and the river. Here, as at Hong Kong
and Calcutta, were mixed crowds of all races Americans and English,
Chinamen and Dutchmen, mostly merchants ready to buy or sell anything.
The Frenchman felt himself as much alone among them as if he had dropped
down in the midst of Hottentots.

He had, at least, one resource to call on the French and English consuls
at Yokohama for assistance. But he shrank from telling the story
of his adventures, intimately connected as it was with that of his master;
and, before doing so, he determined to exhaust all other means of aid.
As chance did not favour him in the European quarter, he penetrated
that inhabited by the native Japanese, determined, if necessary,
to push on to Yeddo.

The Japanese quarter of Yokohama is called Benten, after the
goddess of the sea, who is worshipped on the islands round about.
There Passepartout beheld beautiful fir and cedar groves, sacred
gates of a singular architecture, bridges half hid in the midst
of bamboos and reeds, temples shaded by immense cedar-trees,
holy retreats where were sheltered Buddhist priests and sectaries
of Confucius, and interminable streets, where a perfect harvest of
rose-tinted and red-cheeked children, who looked as if they had been
cut out of Japanese screens, and who were playing in the midst
of short-legged poodles and yellowish cats, might have been gathered.

The streets were crowded with people. Priests were passing
in processions, beating their dreary tambourines; police and
custom-house officers with pointed hats encrusted with lac and
carrying two sabres hung to their waists; soldiers, clad in blue
cotton with white stripes, and bearing guns; the Mikado’s guards,
enveloped in silken doubles, hauberks and coats of mail;
and numbers of military folk of all ranks–for the military
profession is as much respected in Japan as it is despised
in China–went hither and thither in groups and pairs.
Passepartout saw, too, begging friars, long-robed pilgrims,
and simple civilians, with their warped and jet-black hair,
big heads, long busts, slender legs, short stature, and complexions
varying from copper-colour to a dead white, but never yellow,
like the Chinese, from whom the Japanese widely differ.
He did not fail to observe the curious equipages–carriages and palanquins,
barrows supplied with sails, and litters made of bamboo; nor the women–
whom he thought not especially handsome–who took little steps with their
little feet, whereon they wore canvas shoes, straw sandals, and clogs
of worked wood, and who displayed tight-looking eyes, flat chests,
teeth fashionably blackened, and gowns crossed with silken scarfs,
tied in an enormous knot behind an ornament which the modern
Parisian ladies seem to have borrowed from the dames of Japan.

Passepartout wandered for several hours in the midst of this motley crowd,
looking in at the windows of the rich and curious shops, the jewellery
establishments glittering with quaint Japanese ornaments, the restaurants
decked with streamers and banners, the tea-houses, where the odorous beverage
was being drunk with saki, a liquor concocted from the fermentation of rice,
and the comfortable smoking-houses, where they were puffing, not opium,
which is almost unknown in Japan, but a very fine, stringy tobacco.
He went on till he found himself in the fields, in the midst of vast
rice plantations. There he saw dazzling camellias expanding themselves,
with flowers which were giving forth their last colours and perfumes,
not on bushes, but on trees, and within bamboo enclosures, cherry, plum,
and apple trees, which the Japanese cultivate rather for their blossoms
than their fruit, and which queerly-fashioned, grinning scarecrows
protected from the sparrows, pigeons, ravens, and other voracious birds.
On the branches of the cedars were perched large eagles; amid the foliage
of the weeping willows were herons, solemnly standing on one leg;
and on every hand were crows, ducks, hawks, wild birds, and a
multitude of cranes, which the Japanese consider sacred,
and which to their minds symbolise long life and prosperity.

As he was strolling along, Passepartout espied some violets among the shrubs.

“Good!” said he; “I’ll have some supper.”

But, on smelling them, he found that they were odourless.

“No chance there,” thought he.

The worthy fellow had certainly taken good care to eat as
hearty a breakfast as possible before leaving the Carnatic;
but, as he had been walking about all day, the demands of hunger
were becoming importunate. He observed that the butchers stalls
contained neither mutton, goat, nor pork; and, knowing also that
it is a sacrilege to kill cattle, which are preserved solely for farming,
he made up his mind that meat was far from plentiful in Yokohama–
nor was he mistaken; and, in default of butcher’s meat,
he could have wished for a quarter of wild boar or deer,
a partridge, or some quails, some game or fish, which, with rice,
the Japanese eat almost exclusively. But he found it necessary
to keep up a stout heart, and to postpone the meal he craved till
the following morning. Night came, and Passepartout re-entered
the native quarter, where he wandered through the streets,
lit by vari-coloured lanterns, looking on at the dancers,
who were executing skilful steps and boundings, and the astrologers
who stood in the open air with their telescopes. Then he came
to the harbour, which was lit up by the resin torches of the fishermen,
who were fishing from their boats.

The streets at last became quiet, and the patrol, the officers
of which, in their splendid costumes, and surrounded by their suites,
Passepartout thought seemed like ambassadors, succeeded the bustling crowd.
Each time a company passed, Passepartout chuckled, and said to himself:
“Good! another Japanese embassy departing for Europe!”

 

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