IN WHICH THE RED SEA AND THE INDIAN OCEAN PROVE PROPITIOUS
TO THE DESIGNS OF PHILEAS FOGG
The distance between Suez and Aden is precisely thirteen hundred and
ten miles, and the regulations of the company allow the steamers one
hundred and thirty-eight hours in which to traverse it. The Mongolia,
thanks to the vigorous exertions of the engineer, seemed likely, so
rapid was her speed, to reach her destination considerably within that
time. The greater part of the passengers from Brindisi were bound for
India some for Bombay, others for Calcutta by way of Bombay, the
nearest route thither, now that a railway crosses the Indian peninsula.
Among the passengers was a number of officials and military officers of
various grades, the latter being either attached to the regular British
forces or commanding the Sepoy troops, and receiving high salaries ever
since the central government has assumed the powers of the East India
Company: for the sub-lieutenants get 280 pounds, brigadiers, 2,400
pounds, and generals of divisions, 4,000 pounds. What with the
military men, a number of rich young Englishmen on their travels, and
the hospitable efforts of the purser, the time passed quickly on the
Mongolia. The best of fare was spread upon the cabin tables at
breakfast, lunch, dinner, and the eight o'clock supper, and the ladies
scrupulously changed their toilets twice a day; and the hours were
whirled away, when the sea was tranquil, with music, dancing, and games.
But the Red Sea is full of caprice, and often boisterous, like most
long and narrow gulfs. When the wind came from the African or Asian
coast the Mongolia, with her long hull, rolled fearfully. Then the
ladies speedily disappeared below; the pianos were silent; singing and
dancing suddenly ceased. Yet the good ship ploughed straight on,
unretarded by wind or wave, towards the straits of Bab-el-Mandeb. What
was Phileas Fogg doing all this time? It might be thought that, in his
anxiety, he would be constantly watching the changes of the wind, the
disorderly raging of the billows—every chance, in short, which might
force the Mongolia to slacken her speed, and thus interrupt his
journey. But, if he thought of these possibilities, he did not betray
the fact by any outward sign.
Always the same impassible member of the Reform Club, whom no incident
could surprise, as unvarying as the ship's chronometers, and seldom
having the curiosity even to go upon the deck, he passed through the
memorable scenes of the Red Sea with cold indifference; did not care to
recognise the historic towns and villages which, along its borders,
raised their picturesque outlines against the sky; and betrayed no fear
of the dangers of the Arabic Gulf, which the old historians always
spoke of with horror, and upon which the ancient navigators never
ventured without propitiating the gods by ample sacrifices. How did
this eccentric personage pass his time on the Mongolia? He made his
four hearty meals every day, regardless of the most persistent rolling
and pitching on the part of the steamer; and he played whist
indefatigably, for he had found partners as enthusiastic in the game as
himself. A tax-collector, on the way to his post at Goa; the Rev.
Decimus Smith, returning to his parish at Bombay; and a
brigadier-general of the English army, who was about to rejoin his
brigade at Benares, made up the party, and, with Mr. Fogg, played whist
by the hour together in absorbing silence.
As for Passepartout, he, too, had escaped sea-sickness, and took his
meals conscientiously in the forward cabin. He rather enjoyed the
voyage, for he was well fed and well lodged, took a great interest in
the scenes through which they were passing, and consoled himself with
the delusion that his master's whim would end at Bombay. He was
pleased, on the day after leaving Suez, to find on deck the obliging
person with whom he had walked and chatted on the quays.
"If I am not mistaken," said he, approaching this person, with his most
amiable smile, "you are the gentleman who so kindly volunteered to
guide me at Suez?"
"Ah! I quite recognise you. You are the servant of the strange
"Just so, monsieur—"
"Monsieur Fix," resumed Passepartout, "I'm charmed to find you on
board. Where are you bound?"
"Like you, to Bombay."
"That's capital! Have you made this trip before?"
"Several times. I am one of the agents of the Peninsular Company."
"Then you know India?"
"Why yes," replied Fix, who spoke cautiously.
"A curious place, this India?"
"Oh, very curious. Mosques, minarets, temples, fakirs, pagodas,
tigers, snakes, elephants! I hope you will have ample time to see the
"I hope so, Monsieur Fix. You see, a man of sound sense ought not to
spend his life jumping from a steamer upon a railway train, and from a
railway train upon a steamer again, pretending to make the tour of the
world in eighty days! No; all these gymnastics, you may be sure, will
cease at Bombay."
"And Mr. Fogg is getting on well?" asked Fix, in the most natural tone
in the world.
"Quite well, and I too. I eat like a famished ogre; it's the sea air."
"But I never see your master on deck."
"Never; he hasn't the least curiosity."
"Do you know, Mr. Passepartout, that this pretended tour in eighty days
may conceal some secret errand—perhaps a diplomatic mission?"
"Faith, Monsieur Fix, I assure you I know nothing about it, nor would I
give half a crown to find out."
After this meeting, Passepartout and Fix got into the habit of chatting
together, the latter making it a point to gain the worthy man's
confidence. He frequently offered him a glass of whiskey or pale ale
in the steamer bar-room, which Passepartout never failed to accept with
graceful alacrity, mentally pronouncing Fix the best of good fellows.
Meanwhile the Mongolia was pushing forward rapidly; on the 13th, Mocha,
surrounded by its ruined walls whereon date-trees were growing, was
sighted, and on the mountains beyond were espied vast coffee-fields.
Passepartout was ravished to behold this celebrated place, and thought
that, with its circular walls and dismantled fort, it looked like an
immense coffee-cup and saucer. The following night they passed through
the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, which means in Arabic The Bridge of Tears,
and the next day they put in at Steamer Point, north-west of Aden
harbour, to take in coal. This matter of fuelling steamers is a
serious one at such distances from the coal-mines; it costs the
Peninsular Company some eight hundred thousand pounds a year. In these
distant seas, coal is worth three or four pounds sterling a ton.
The Mongolia had still sixteen hundred and fifty miles to traverse
before reaching Bombay, and was obliged to remain four hours at Steamer
Point to coal up. But this delay, as it was foreseen, did not affect
Phileas Fogg's programme; besides, the Mongolia, instead of reaching
Aden on the morning of the 15th, when she was due, arrived there on the
evening of the 14th, a gain of fifteen hours.
Mr. Fogg and his servant went ashore at Aden to have the passport again
visaed; Fix, unobserved, followed them. The visa procured, Mr. Fogg
returned on board to resume his former habits; while Passepartout,
according to custom, sauntered about among the mixed population of
Somalis, Banyans, Parsees, Jews, Arabs, and Europeans who comprise the
twenty-five thousand inhabitants of Aden. He gazed with wonder upon
the fortifications which make this place the Gibraltar of the Indian
Ocean, and the vast cisterns where the English engineers were still at
work, two thousand years after the engineers of Solomon.
"Very curious, very curious," said Passepartout to himself, on
returning to the steamer. "I see that it is by no means useless to
travel, if a man wants to see something new." At six p.m. the
Mongolia slowly moved out of the roadstead, and was soon once more on
the Indian Ocean. She had a hundred and sixty-eight hours in which to
reach Bombay, and the sea was favourable, the wind being in the
north-west, and all sails aiding the engine. The steamer rolled but
little, the ladies, in fresh toilets, reappeared on deck, and the
singing and dancing were resumed. The trip was being accomplished most
successfully, and Passepartout was enchanted with the congenial
companion which chance had secured him in the person of the delightful
Fix. On Sunday, October 20th, towards noon, they came in sight of the
Indian coast: two hours later the pilot came on board. A range of
hills lay against the sky in the horizon, and soon the rows of palms
which adorn Bombay came distinctly into view. The steamer entered the
road formed by the islands in the bay, and at half-past four she hauled
up at the quays of Bombay.
Phileas Fogg was in the act of finishing the thirty-third rubber of the
voyage, and his partner and himself having, by a bold stroke, captured
all thirteen of the tricks, concluded this fine campaign with a
The Mongolia was due at Bombay on the 22nd; she arrived on the 20th.
This was a gain to Phileas Fogg of two days since his departure from
London, and he calmly entered the fact in the itinerary, in the column