Chapter 20. IN WHICH FIX COMES FACE TO FACE WITH PHILEAS FOGG
While these events were passing at the opium-house, Mr. Fogg, unconscious of the danger he was in of losing the steamer, was quietly escorting Aouda about the streets of the English quarter, making the necessary purchases for the long voyage before them. It was all very well for an Englishman like Mr. Fogg to make the tour of the world with a carpet-bag; a lady could not be expected to travel comfortably under such conditions. He acquitted his task with characteristic serenity, and invariably replied to the remonstrances of his fair companion, who was confused by his patience and generosity:
"It is in the interest of my journey—a part of my programme."
The purchases made, they returned to the hotel, where they dined at a sumptuously served table-d'hote; after which Aouda, shaking hands with her protector after the English fashion, retired to her room for rest. Mr. Fogg absorbed himself throughout the evening in the perusal of The Times and Illustrated London News.
Had he been capable of being astonished at anything, it would have been not to see his servant return at bedtime. But, knowing that the steamer was not to leave for Yokohama until the next morning, he did not disturb himself about the matter. When Passepartout did not appear the next morning to answer his master's bell, Mr. Fogg, not betraying the least vexation, contented himself with taking his carpet-bag, calling Aouda, and sending for a palanquin.
It was then eight o'clock; at half-past nine, it being then high tide, the Carnatic would leave the harbour. Mr. Fogg and Aouda got into the palanquin, their luggage being brought after on a wheelbarrow, and half an hour later stepped upon the quay whence they were to embark. Mr. Fogg then learned that the Carnatic had sailed the evening before. He had expected to find not only the steamer, but his domestic, and was forced to give up both; but no sign of disappointment appeared on his face, and he merely remarked to Aouda, "It is an accident, madam; nothing more."
At this moment a man who had been observing him attentively approached. It was Fix, who, bowing, addressed Mr. Fogg: "Were you not, like me, sir, a passenger by the Rangoon, which arrived yesterday?"
"I was, sir," replied Mr. Fogg coldly. "But I have not the honour—"
"Pardon me; I thought I should find your servant here."
"Do you know where he is, sir?" asked Aouda anxiously.
"What!" responded Fix, feigning surprise. "Is he not with you?"
"No," said Aouda. "He has not made his appearance since yesterday. Could he have gone on board the Carnatic without us?"
"Without you, madam?" answered the detective. "Excuse me, did you intend to sail in the Carnatic?"
"So did I, madam, and I am excessively disappointed. The Carnatic, its repairs being completed, left Hong Kong twelve hours before the stated time, without any notice being given; and we must now wait a week for another steamer."
As he said "a week" Fix felt his heart leap for joy. Fogg detained at Hong Kong for a week! There would be time for the warrant to arrive, and fortune at last favoured the representative of the law. His horror may be imagined when he heard Mr. Fogg say, in his placid voice, "But there are other vessels besides the Carnatic, it seems to me, in the harbour of Hong Kong."
And, offering his arm to Aouda, he directed his steps toward the docks in search of some craft about to start. Fix, stupefied, followed; it seemed as if he were attached to Mr. Fogg by an invisible thread. Chance, however, appeared really to have abandoned the man it had hitherto served so well. For three hours Phileas Fogg wandered about the docks, with the determination, if necessary, to charter a vessel to carry him to Yokohama; but he could only find vessels which were loading or unloading, and which could not therefore set sail. Fix began to hope again.
But Mr. Fogg, far from being discouraged, was continuing his search, resolved not to stop if he had to resort to Macao, when he was accosted by a sailor on one of the wharves.
"Is your honour looking for a boat?"
"Have you a boat ready to sail?"
"Yes, your honour; a pilot-boat—No. 43—the best in the harbour."
"Does she go fast?"
"Between eight and nine knots the hour. Will you look at her?"
"Your honour will be satisfied with her. Is it for a sea excursion?"
"No; for a voyage."
"Yes, will you agree to take me to Yokohama?"
The sailor leaned on the railing, opened his eyes wide, and said, "Is your honour joking?"
"No. I have missed the Carnatic, and I must get to Yokohama by the 14th at the latest, to take the boat for San Francisco."
"I am sorry," said the sailor; "but it is impossible."
"I offer you a hundred pounds per day, and an additional reward of two hundred pounds if I reach Yokohama in time."
"Are you in earnest?"
"Very much so."
The pilot walked away a little distance, and gazed out to sea, evidently struggling between the anxiety to gain a large sum and the fear of venturing so far. Fix was in mortal suspense.
Mr. Fogg turned to Aouda and asked her, "You would not be afraid, would you, madam?"
"Not with you, Mr. Fogg," was her answer.
The pilot now returned, shuffling his hat in his hands.
"Well, pilot?" said Mr. Fogg.
"Well, your honour," replied he, "I could not risk myself, my men, or my little boat of scarcely twenty tons on so long a voyage at this time of year. Besides, we could not reach Yokohama in time, for it is sixteen hundred and sixty miles from Hong Kong."
"Only sixteen hundred," said Mr. Fogg.
"It's the same thing."
Fix breathed more freely.
"But," added the pilot, "it might be arranged another way."
Fix ceased to breathe at all.
"How?" asked Mr. Fogg.
"By going to Nagasaki, at the extreme south of Japan, or even to Shanghai, which is only eight hundred miles from here. In going to Shanghai we should not be forced to sail wide of the Chinese coast, which would be a great advantage, as the currents run northward, and would aid us."
"Pilot," said Mr. Fogg, "I must take the American steamer at Yokohama, and not at Shanghai or Nagasaki."
"Why not?" returned the pilot. "The San Francisco steamer does not start from Yokohama. It puts in at Yokohama and Nagasaki, but it starts from Shanghai."
"You are sure of that?"
"And when does the boat leave Shanghai?"
"On the 11th, at seven in the evening. We have, therefore, four days before us, that is ninety-six hours; and in that time, if we had good luck and a south-west wind, and the sea was calm, we could make those eight hundred miles to Shanghai."
"And you could go—"
"In an hour; as soon as provisions could be got aboard and the sails put up."
"It is a bargain. Are you the master of the boat?"
"Yes; John Bunsby, master of the Tankadere."
"Would you like some earnest-money?"
"If it would not put your honour out—"
"Here are two hundred pounds on account sir," added Phileas Fogg, turning to Fix, "if you would like to take advantage—"
"Thanks, sir; I was about to ask the favour."
"Very well. In half an hour we shall go on board."
"But poor Passepartout?" urged Aouda, who was much disturbed by the servant's disappearance.
"I shall do all I can to find him," replied Phileas Fogg.
While Fix, in a feverish, nervous state, repaired to the pilot-boat, the others directed their course to the police-station at Hong Kong. Phileas Fogg there gave Passepartout's description, and left a sum of money to be spent in the search for him. The same formalities having been gone through at the French consulate, and the palanquin having stopped at the hotel for the luggage, which had been sent back there, they returned to the wharf.
It was now three o'clock; and pilot-boat No. 43, with its crew on board, and its provisions stored away, was ready for departure.
The Tankadere was a neat little craft of twenty tons, as gracefully built as if she were a racing yacht. Her shining copper sheathing, her galvanised iron-work, her deck, white as ivory, betrayed the pride taken by John Bunsby in making her presentable. Her two masts leaned a trifle backward; she carried brigantine, foresail, storm-jib, and standing-jib, and was well rigged for running before the wind; and she seemed capable of brisk speed, which, indeed, she had already proved by gaining several prizes in pilot-boat races. The crew of the Tankadere was composed of John Bunsby, the master, and four hardy mariners, who were familiar with the Chinese seas. John Bunsby, himself, a man of forty-five or thereabouts, vigorous, sunburnt, with a sprightly expression of the eye, and energetic and self-reliant countenance, would have inspired confidence in the most timid.
Phileas Fogg and Aouda went on board, where they found Fix already installed. Below deck was a square cabin, of which the walls bulged out in the form of cots, above a circular divan; in the centre was a table provided with a swinging lamp. The accommodation was confined, but neat.
"I am sorry to have nothing better to offer you," said Mr. Fogg to Fix, who bowed without responding.
The detective had a feeling akin to humiliation in profiting by the kindness of Mr. Fogg.
"It's certain," thought he, "though rascal as he is, he is a polite one!"
The sails and the English flag were hoisted at ten minutes past three. Mr. Fogg and Aouda, who were seated on deck, cast a last glance at the quay, in the hope of espying Passepartout. Fix was not without his fears lest chance should direct the steps of the unfortunate servant, whom he had so badly treated, in this direction; in which case an explanation the reverse of satisfactory to the detective must have ensued. But the Frenchman did not appear, and, without doubt, was still lying under the stupefying influence of the opium.
John Bunsby, master, at length gave the order to start, and the Tankadere, taking the wind under her brigantine, foresail, and standing-jib, bounded briskly forward over the waves.