FictionForest

Chapter 33

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

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In which Phileas Fogg shows himself equal to the occasion

An hour after, the Henrietta passed the lighthouse which marks the
entrance of the Hudson, turned the point of Sandy Hook, and put to
sea. During the day she skirted Long Island, passed Fire Island,
and directed her course rapidly eastward.

At noon the next day, a man mounted the bridge to ascertain the
vessel’s position. It might be thought that this was Captain Speedy.
Not the least in the world. It was Phileas Fogg, Esquire.
As for Captain Speedy, he was shut up in his cabin under lock and key,
and was uttering loud cries, which signified an anger at once pardonable
and excessive.

What had happened was very simple. Phileas Fogg wished
to go to Liverpool, but the captain would not carry him there.
Then Phileas Fogg had taken passage for Bordeaux, and, during
the thirty hours he had been on board, had so shrewdly managed
with his banknotes that the sailors and stokers, who were only
an occasional crew, and were not on the best terms with the captain,
went over to him in a body. This was why Phileas Fogg was in command
instead of Captain Speedy; why the captain was a prisoner in his cabin;
and why, in short, the Henrietta was directing her course towards Liverpool.
It was very clear, to see Mr. Fogg manage the craft, that he had been a sailor.

How the adventure ended will be seen anon. Aouda was anxious, though she
said nothing. As for Passepartout, he thought Mr. Fogg’s manoeuvre
simply glorious. The captain had said “between eleven and twelve knots,”
and the Henrietta confirmed his prediction.

If, then–for there were “ifs” still–the sea did not become
too boisterous, if the wind did not veer round to the east,
if no accident happened to the boat or its machinery, the Henrietta
might cross the three thousand miles from New York to Liverpool
in the nine days, between the 12th and the 21st of December.
It is true that, once arrived, the affair on board the Henrietta,
added to that of the Bank of England, might create more difficulties
for Mr. Fogg than he imagined or could desire.

During the first days, they went along smoothly enough. The sea was
not very unpropitious, the wind seemed stationary in the north-east,
the sails were hoisted, and the Henrietta ploughed across the waves
like a real trans-Atlantic steamer.

Passepartout was delighted. His master’s last exploit, the consequences
of which he ignored, enchanted him. Never had the crew seen so jolly
and dexterous a fellow. He formed warm friendships with the sailors,
and amazed them with his acrobatic feats. He thought they managed
the vessel like gentlemen, and that the stokers fired up like heroes.
His loquacious good-humour infected everyone. He had forgotten the past,
its vexations and delays. He only thought of the end, so nearly accomplished;
and sometimes he boiled over with impatience, as if heated by the furnaces
of the Henrietta. Often, also, the worthy fellow revolved around Fix,
looking at him with a keen, distrustful eye; but he did not speak to him,
for their old intimacy no longer existed.

Fix, it must be confessed, understood nothing of what was going on.
The conquest of the Henrietta, the bribery of the crew, Fogg managing
the boat like a skilled seaman, amazed and confused him. He did not know
what to think. For, after all, a man who began by stealing fifty-five thousand
pounds might end by stealing a vessel; and Fix was not unnaturally inclined
to conclude that the Henrietta under Fogg’s command, was not going to Liverpool
at all, but to some part of the world where the robber, turned into a pirate,
would quietly put himself in safety. The conjecture was at least a plausible
one, and the detective began to seriously regret that he had embarked
on the affair.

As for Captain Speedy, he continued to howl and growl in his cabin;
and Passepartout, whose duty it was to carry him his meals,
courageous as he was, took the greatest precautions. Mr. Fogg
did not seem even to know that there was a captain on board.

On the 13th they passed the edge of the Banks of Newfoundland,
a dangerous locality; during the winter, especially, there are
frequent fogs and heavy gales of wind. Ever since the evening
before the barometer, suddenly falling, had indicated an approaching
change in the atmosphere; and during the night the temperature varied,
the cold became sharper, and the wind veered to the south-east.

This was a misfortune. Mr. Fogg, in order not to deviate from his course,
furled his sails and increased the force of the steam; but the vessel’s speed
slackened, owing to the state of the sea, the long waves of which broke against
the stern. She pitched violently, and this retarded her progress.
The breeze little by little swelled into a tempest, and it was to be feared
that the Henrietta might not be able to maintain herself upright on the waves.

Passepartout’s visage darkened with the skies, and for two days the poor
fellow experienced constant fright. But Phileas Fogg was a bold mariner,
and knew how to maintain headway against the sea; and he kept on his course,
without even decreasing his steam. The Henrietta, when she could not rise
upon the waves, crossed them, swamping her deck, but passing safely.
Sometinies the screw rose out of the water, beating its protruding end,
when a mountain of water raised the stern above the waves; but the craft
always kept straight ahead.

The wind, however, did not grow as boisterous as might have been feared;
it was not one of those tempests which burst, and rush on with a speed
of ninety miles an hour. It continued fresh, but, unhappily, it remained
obstinately in the south-east, rendering the sails useless.

The 16th of December was the seventy-fifth day since Phileas Fogg’s
departure from London, and the Henrietta had not yet been seriously delayed.
Half of the voyage was almost accomplished, and the worst localities
had been passed. In summer, success would have been well-nigh certain.
In winter, they were at the mercy of the bad season. Passepartout
said nothing; but he cherished hope in secret, and comforted himself
with the reflection that, if the wind failed them, they might still
count on the steam.

On this day the engineer came on deck, went up to Mr. Fogg, and
began to speak earnestly with him. Without knowing why it was
a presentiment, perhaps Passepartout became vaguely uneasy.
He would have given one of his ears to hear with the other what
the engineer was saying. He finally managed to catch a few words,
and was sure he heard his master say, “You are certain of what you tell me?”

“Certain, sir,” replied the engineer. “You must remember that,
since we started, we have kept up hot fires in all our furnaces,
and, though we had coal enough to go on short steam from New York to
Bordeaux, we haven’t enough to go with all steam from New York to Liverpool.”
“I will consider,” replied Mr. Fogg.

Passepartout understood it all; he was seized with mortal anxiety.
The coal was giving out! “Ah, if my master can get over that,”
muttered he, “he’ll be a famous man!” He could not help imparting
to Fix what he had overheard.

“Then you believe that we really are going to Liverpool?”

“Of course.”

“Ass!” replied the detective, shrugging his shoulders and turning on his heel.

Passepartout was on the point of vigorously resenting the epithet,
the reason of which he could not for the life of him comprehend;
but he reflected that the unfortunate Fix was probably very much
disappointed and humiliated in his self-esteem, after having so
awkwardly followed a false scent around the world, and refrained.

And now what course would Phileas Fogg adopt? It was difficult
to imagine. Nevertheless he seemed to have decided upon one,
for that evening he sent for the engineer, and said to him,
“Feed all the fires until the coal is exhausted.”

A few moments after, the funnel of the Henrietta vomited forth torrents
of smoke. The vessel continued to proceed with all steam on;
but on the 18th, the engineer, as he had predicted, announced
that the coal would give out in the course of the day.

“Do not let the fires go down,” replied Mr. Fogg.
“Keep them up to the last. Let the valves be filled.”

Towards noon Phileas Fogg, having ascertained their position,
called Passepartout, and ordered him to go for Captain Speedy.
It was as if the honest fellow had been commanded to unchain a tiger.
He went to the poop, saying to himself, “He will be like a madman!”

In a few moments, with cries and oaths, a bomb appeared on the poop-deck.
The bomb was Captain Speedy. It was clear that he was on the point
of bursting. “Where are we?” were the first words his anger permitted
him to utter. Had the poor man be an apoplectic, he could never have
recovered from his paroxysm of wrath.

“Where are we?” he repeated, with purple face.

“Seven hundred and seven miles from Liverpool,”
replied Mr. Fogg, with imperturbable calmness.

“Pirate!” cried Captain Speedy.

“I have sent for you, sir–”

“Pickaroon!”

“–sir,” continued Mr. Fogg, “to ask you to sell me your vessel.”

“No! By all the devils, no!”

“But I shall be obliged to burn her.”

“Burn the Henrietta!”

“Yes; at least the upper part of her. The coal has given out.”

“Burn my vessel!” cried Captain Speedy, who could scarcely
pronounce the words. “A vessel worth fifty thousand dollars!”

“Here are sixty thousand,” replied Phileas Fogg, handing the
captain a roll of bank-bills. This had a prodigious effect
on Andrew Speedy. An American can scarcely remain unmoved
at the sight of sixty thousand dollars. The captain forgot
in an instant his anger, his imprisonment, and all his grudges
against his passenger. The Henrietta was twenty years old;
it was a great bargain. The bomb would not go off after all.
Mr. Fogg had taken away the match.

“And I shall still have the iron hull,” said the captain in a softer tone.

“The iron hull and the engine. Is it agreed?”

“Agreed.”

And Andrew Speedy, seizing the banknotes, counted them
and consigned them to his pocket.

During this colloquy, Passepartout was as white as a sheet,
and Fix seemed on the point of having an apoplectic fit.
Nearly twenty thousand pounds had been expended, and Fogg
left the hull and engine to the captain, that is,
near the whole value of the craft! It was true, however,
that fifty-five thousand pounds had been stolen from the Bank.

When Andrew Speedy had pocketed the money, Mr. Fogg said to him,
“Don’t let this astonish you, sir. You must know that I shall
lose twenty thousand pounds, unless I arrive in London by
a quarter before nine on the evening of the 21st of December.
I missed the steamer at New York, and as you refused to take me to Liverpool–”

“And I did well!” cried Andrew Speedy; “for I have gained at
least forty thousand dollars by it!” He added, more sedately,
“Do you know one thing, Captain–”

“Fogg.”

“Captain Fogg, you’ve got something of the Yankee about you.”

And, having paid his passenger what he considered a high compliment,
he was going away, when Mr. Fogg said, “The vessel now belongs to me?”

“Certainly, from the keel to the truck of the masts–all the wood, that is.”

“Very well. Have the interior seats, bunks, and frames pulled down,
and burn them.”

It was necessary to have dry wood to keep the steam up
to the adequate pressure, and on that day the poop, cabins,
bunks, and the spare deck were sacrificed. On the next day,
the 19th of December, the masts, rafts, and spars were burned;
the crew worked lustily, keeping up the fires. Passepartout hewed, cut,
and sawed away with all his might. There was a perfect rage for demolition.

The railings, fittings, the greater part of the deck, and top sides
disappeared on the 20th, and the Henrietta was now only a flat hulk.
But on this day they sighted the Irish coast and Fastnet Light.
By ten in the evening they were passing Queenstown. Phileas Fogg
had only twenty-four hours more in which to get to London;
that length of time was necessary to reach Liverpool, with all steam on.
And the steam was about to give out altogether!

“Sir,” said Captain Speedy, who was now deeply interested in
Mr. Fogg’s project, “I really commiserate you. Everything is
against you. We are only opposite Queenstown.”

“Ah,” said Mr. Fogg, “is that place where we see the lights Queenstown?”

“Yes.”

“Can we enter the harbour?”

“Not under three hours. Only at high tide.”

“Stay,” replied Mr. Fogg calmly, without betraying in his features
that by a supreme inspiration he was about to attempt once more
to conquer ill-fortune.

Queenstown is the Irish port at which the trans-Atlantic steamers
stop to put off the mails. These mails are carried to Dublin
by express trains always held in readiness to start; from Dublin
they are sent on to Liverpool by the most rapid boats,
and thus gain twelve hours on the Atlantic steamers.

Phileas Fogg counted on gaining twelve hours in the same way.
Instead of arriving at Liverpool the next evening by the Henrietta,
he would be there by noon, and would therefore have time to reach London
before a quarter before nine in the evening.

The Henrietta entered Queenstown Harbour at one o’clock in the morning,
it then being high tide; and Phileas Fogg, after being grasped heartily
by the hand by Captain Speedy, left that gentleman on the levelled hulk
of his craft, which was still worth half what he had sold it for.

The party went on shore at once. Fix was greatly tempted
to arrest Mr. Fogg on the spot; but he did not. Why? What struggle
was going on within him? Had he changed his mind about “his man”?
Did he understand that he had made a grave mistake? He did not,
however, abandon Mr. Fogg. They all got upon the train, which was
just ready to start, at half-past one; at dawn of day they were
in Dublin; and they lost no time in embarking on a steamer which,
disdaining to rise upon the waves, invariably cut through them.

Phileas Fogg at last disembarked on the Liverpool quay,
at twenty minutes before twelve, 21st December. He was only
six hours distant from London.

But at this moment Fix came up, put his hand upon Mr. Fogg’s shoulder,
and, showing his warrant, said, “You are really Phileas Fogg?”

“I am.”

“I arrest you in the Queen’s name!”

 

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