Fogg found himself twenty hours behind time.
Passepartout, the involuntary cause of this delay, was desperate. He had
ruined his master!
moment the detective approached Mr. Fogg, and, looking him intently in
the face, said:
sir, are you in great haste?"
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?"
if your journey had not been interrupted by these Indians, you would have
reached New York on the morning of the 11th?"
with eleven hours to spare before the steamer left."
you are therefore twenty hours behind. Twelve from twenty leaves eight.
You must regain eight hours. Do you wish to try to do so?"
asked Mr. Fogg.
a sledge," replied Fix. "On a sledge with sails. A man has proposed such
a method to me."
the man who had spoken to Fix during the night, and whose offer he had
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 an hour.
breaks," said Mudge, "we shall get there!"
had made it for Mudge's interest to reach Omaha within the time agreed
on, by the offer of a handsome reward.
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 fearó an accident to the sledge, and a change or
calm in the wind.
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 melody.
chords give the fifth and the octave," said Mr. Fogg.
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
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
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.
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 there!"
Arrived at the station which is in daily communication, by numerous trains,
with the Atlantic seaboard!
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 railway station.
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 stations.
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.
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
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.
for Liverpool, had started three-quarters of an hour before!