In which Fix, the detective,
considerably furthers the interests
of Phileas Fogg
Phileas Fogg found himself
twenty hours behind time. Passepartout,
the involuntary cause of this
delay, was desperate. He had
ruined his master!
At this moment the detective
approached Mr. Fogg, and, looking
him intently in the face, said:
sir, are you in great haste?"
"I have a purpose in asking," resumed
Fix. "Is it absolutely necessary
that you should be in New York
on the 11th, before nine o'clock
in the evening, the time that
the steamer leaves for Liverpool?"
"It is absolutely
"And, if your
journey had not been interrupted
by these Indians,
you would have reached New York
on the morning of the 11th?"
eleven hours to spare before
the steamer left."
are therefore twenty hours
behind. Twelve from twenty
leaves eight. You must regain
eight hours. Do you wish to try
to do so?"
"On foot?" asked
"No; on a sledge," replied
Fix. "On a sledge with sails.
A man has proposed such a method
It was the man who had spoken
to Fix during the night, and
whose offer he had refused.
Phileas Fogg did not reply
at once; but Fix, having pointed
out the man, who was walking
up and down in front of the station,
Mr. Fogg went up to him. An instant
after, Mr. Fogg and the American,
whose name was Mudge, entered
a hut built just below the fort.
There Mr. Fogg examined a curious
vehicle, a kind of frame on two
long beams, a little raised in
front like the runners of a sledge,
and upon which there was room
for five or six persons. A high
mast was fixed on the frame,
held firmly by metallic lashings,
to which was attached a large
brigantine sail. This mast held
an iron stay upon which to hoist
a jib-sail. Behind, a sort of
rudder served to guide the vehicle.
It was, in short, a sledge rigged
like a sloop. During the winter,
when the trains are blocked up
by the snow, these sledges make
extremely rapid journeys across
the frozen plains from one station
to another. Provided with more
sails than a cutter, and with
the wind behind them, they slip
over the surface of the prairies
with a speed equal if not superior
to that of the express trains.
Mr. Fogg readily made a bargain
with the owner of this land-craft.
The wind was favourable, being
fresh, and blowing from the west.
The snow had hardened, and Mudge
was very confident of being able
to transport Mr. Fogg in a few
hours to Omaha. Thence the trains
eastward run frequently to Chicago
and New York. It was not impossible
that the lost time might yet
be recovered; and such an opportunity
was not to be rejected.
Not wishing to expose Aouda
to the discomforts of travelling
in the open air, Mr. Fogg proposed
to leave her with Passepartout
at Fort Kearney, the servant
taking upon himself to escort
her to Europe by a better route
and under more favourable conditions.
But Aouda refused to separate
from Mr. Fogg, and Passepartout
was delighted with her decision;
for nothing could induce him
to leave his master while Fix
was with him.
It would be difficult to guess
the detective's thoughts. Was
this conviction shaken by Phileas
Fogg's return, or did he still
regard him as an exceedingly
shrewd rascal, who, his journey
round the world completed, would
think himself absolutely safe
in England? Perhaps Fix's opinion
of Phileas Fogg was somewhat
modified; but he was nevertheless
resolved to do his duty, and
to hasten the return of the whole
party to England as much as possible.
At eight o'clock the sledge
was ready to start. The passengers
took their places on it, and
wrapped themselves up closely
in their travelling-cloaks. The
two great sails were hoisted,
and under the pressure of the
wind the sledge slid over the
hardened snow with a velocity
of forty miles an hour.
The distance between Fort Kearney
and Omaha, as the birds fly,
is at most two hundred miles.
If the wind held good, the distance
might be traversed in five hours;
if no accident happened the sledge
might reach Omaha by one o'clock.
What a journey! The travellers,
huddled close together, could
not speak for the cold, intensified
by the rapidity at which they
were going. The sledge sped on
as lightly as a boat over the
waves. When the breeze came skimming
the earth the sledge seemed to
be lifted off the ground by its
sails. Mudge, who was at the
rudder, kept in a straight line,
and by a turn of his hand checked
the lurches which the vehicle
had a tendency to make. All the
sails were up, and the jib was
so arranged as not to screen
the brigantine. A top-mast was
hoisted, and another jib, held
out to the wind, added its force
to the other sails. Although
the speed could not be exactly
estimated, the sledge could not
be going at less than forty miles
"If nothing breaks," said Mudge, "we
shall get there!"
Mr. Fogg had made it for Mudge's
interest to reach Omaha within
the time agreed on, by the offer
of a handsome reward.
The prairie, across which the
sledge was moving in a straight
line, was as flat as a sea. It
seemed like a vast frozen lake.
The railroad which ran through
this section ascended from the
south-west to the north-west
by Great Island, Columbus, an
important Nebraska town, Schuyler,
and Fremont, to Omaha. It followed
throughout the right bank of
the Platte River. The sledge,
shortening this route, took a
chord of the arc described by
the railway. Mudge was not afraid
of being stopped by the Platte
River, because it was frozen.
The road, then, was quite clear
of obstacles, and Phileas Fogg
had but two things to fear--
an accident to the sledge, and
a change or calm in the wind.
But the breeze, far from lessening
its force, blew as if to bend
the mast, which, however, the
metallic lashings held firmly.
These lashings, like the chords
of a stringed instrument, resounded
as if vibrated by a violin bow.
The sledge slid along in the
midst of a plaintively intense
"Those chords give the fifth
and the octave," said Mr. Fogg.
These were the only words he
uttered during the journey. Aouda,
cosily packed in furs and cloaks,
was sheltered as much as possible
from the attacks of the freezing
wind. As for Passepartout, his
face was as red as the sun's
disc when it sets in the mist,
and he laboriously inhaled the
biting air. With his natural
buoyancy of spirits, he began
to hope again. They would reach
New York on the evening, if not
on the morning, of the 11th,
and there was still some chances
that it would be before the steamer
sailed for Liverpool.
Passepartout even felt a strong
desire to grasp his ally, Fix,
by the hand. He remembered that
it was the detective who procured
the sledge, the only means of
reaching Omaha in time; but,
checked by some presentiment,
he kept his usual reserve. One
thing, however, Passepartout
would never forget, and that
was the sacrifice which Mr. Fogg
had made, without hesitation,
to rescue him from the Sioux.
Mr. Fogg had risked 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.
at last, and Mudge, pointing
to a mass of roofs white
with snow, said: "We have got
Arrived! Arrived at the station
which is in daily communication,
by numerous trains, with the
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
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