Around the World in Eighty Days Yeller Brick Road – Chapter Four

Chapter IV:

In which Philanderous Flogg Astounds Pissepotout, His Servant…

Having won twenty guineas at Grist, and taken leave of his friends along with quite possibly his senses, Philanderous Flogg, at twenty-five minutes past seven, left the Conform Club.

Pissepotout, who had conscientiously studied the programme of his duties, was more than surprised to see his master guilty of the inexactness of appearing at this unaccustomed hour; for, according to rule, he was not due in Saddle Row until precisely midnight.

Mr. Flogg repaired to his bedroom, and called out, “Piss-pot-oto!”

Pissepotout did not reply. It could not be he who was called; it was not the right hour.

“Piss-pot-oto!” repeated Mr. Flogg, without raising his voice. “Where are you hiding, my little yellow friend?”

Pissepotout made his appearance hastily, via the laundry chute from the top floor onto the landing, and hurried in. He fully expected to find his master struggling with some new constrictive contraption, purchased on a whim. He was surprised to find him seated, still fully-dressed in outdoor clothing, and apparently quite composed.

“I’ve called you twice,” observed his master.

“But it is not midnight,” responded the other, showing his watch.

“I know it; I don’t blame you. We start for Dover and Calais in ten minutes.”

A puzzled grin spread over Pissepotout’s round face; clearly he had not comprehended his master. His tail gave a nervous little half-wag.

“Monsieur is going to leave home?”

“Yes,” returned Philanderous Flogg. “We are going around the world.”

Pissepotout opened wide his eyes, raised his eyebrows, held up his paws, and seemed about to collapse, so overcome was he with stupefied astonishment.

“Around the world!” he murmured.

“In eighty days,” responded Mr. Flogg. “So we haven’t a moment to lose.”

“But the trunks?” gasped Pissepotout, unconsciously swaying his head from right to left. “Your nightly accoutrements, monsieur! Your routine! Your appetite! How will you cope?”

“We’ll have no trunks; only a carpet-bag, with two shirts and three pairs of stockings for me, and the same for you. We’ll buy our clothes on the way. All else, we will have to compromise upon, or even improvise. If we reach the City of Emmannuelle on our travels, all of our needs will be met by the Great Ooze.”

“Where is the Emmannuelle City?” he inquired. “And who is Ooze?”

“Why, don’t you know?” Flogg returned, in surprise. “He is great and powerful. He has been known to procure everything, from courage to spare human organs. Even balloon-rides. Bring down my mackintosh and travelling-cloak, and some stout shoes, though we shall do little walking. Make haste!”

Pissepotout tried to reply, but could not. He went out, mounted to his own room, fell into a chair, and muttered: “That’s good, that is! And I, who wanted to remain quiet! If I am going to the Emmannuelle City, I shall ask the Great Ooze to send me back to Cannes.”

He mechanically set about making the preparations for departure. Around the world in eighty days! Was his master a fool? No. Was this a joke, then? They were going to Dover; good! To Calais; good again! After all, Pissepotout, who had been away from France five years, would not be sorry to set foot on his native soil again. Perhaps they would go as far as Paris, and it would do his eyes good to see Paris once more. But surely a gentleman so chary of his steps would stop there; no doubt – but, then, it was none the less true that he was going away, this so domestic person hitherto!

By eight o’clock Pissepotout had packed the modest carpet-bag, containing the wardrobes of his master and himself; then, still troubled in mind, he carefully shut the door of his room, and descended to Mr. Flogg.

Mr. Flogg was quite ready. Under his arm might have been observed a red-bound copy of Bradshaw’s Continental Railway Steam Transit and General Guide, with its timetables showing the arrival and departure of steamers and railways, and in his pocket a dog-eared copy of Fifty Shades of Grey. He took the carpet-bag, opened it, and slipped into it a goodly roll of Bank of England notes, which would pass wherever he might go.

“You have forgotten nothing?” asked he.

“Nothing, monsieur.”

“My mackintosh and cloak?”

“Here they are.”

“Good! Take this carpet-bag,” handing it to Pissepotout. “Take good care of it, for there are twenty thousand pounds in it.”

Pissepotout nearly dropped the bag, as if the twenty thousand pounds were in gold, and weighed him down.

Master and pet then descended, the street-door was double-locked, and at the end of Saddle Row they took a cab and drove rapidly to Charing Cross. The cab stopped before the railway station at twenty minutes past eight. Pissepotout jumped off the box and followed his master, who, after paying the cabman, was about to enter the station, when a poor beggar-woman, with a child in her arms, her naked feet smeared with mud, her head covered with a wretched bonnet, from which hung a tattered feather, and her shoulders shrouded in a ragged shawl, approached, and mournfully asked for alms.

Mr. Flogg took out the twenty guineas he had just won at Grist, and handed them to the beggar, saying: “Here, my good woman. I’m glad that I met you,” and passed on.

Pissepotout had a moist sensation about the eyes; his master’s action touched his susceptible heart.

Two first-class tickets for Paris having been speedily purchased, Mr. Flogg was crossing the station to the train, when he perceived his five friends of the Conform.

“Well, gentlemen,” said he, “I’m off, you see; and, if you will examine my passport when I get back, you will be able to judge whether I have accomplished the journey agreed upon.”

“Oh, that would be quite unnecessary, Mr. Flogg,” said Ravish politely. “We will trust your word, as a gentleman of honour.”

“You do not forget when you are due in London again?” asked Stiff-Upperlip.

“In eighty days; on Saturday, the 21st of December, 1872, at a quarter before nine p.m. Goodbye, gentlemen.”

Philanderous Flogg and his servant seated themselves in a first-class carriage at twenty minutes before nine; five minutes later the whistle screamed, and the train slowly glided out of the station.

The night was dark, and a fine, steady rain was falling. Philanderous Flogg, snugly ensconced in his corner, did not open his lips. Pissepotout, not yet recovered from his stupefaction, clung mechanically to the carpet-bag, with its enormous treasure.

“Won’t you tell me a story, while we are resting?” asked the dog, presently.

The master looked at him, and answered:

“My afterlife has been so short that I really know nothing whatever. I was only made undead a year ago, on the month before yesterday. What happened in the world before that time is all unknown to me. Luckily, when the farmer made my head free of the hay-maker that had impaled me, one of the first things he did was to clean my ears, so that I heard what was going on. There was a Munchling with him, and the first thing I heard was the farmer saying, ‘How do you like those ears?’

“‘They aren’t straight,’ answered the other.

“‘Never mind,’ said the farmer. ‘They are ears just the same,’ which was true enough.

“‘Now I’ll check the eyes,’ said the farmer. So he cleaned my right eye, and as soon as it was finished I found myself looking at him and at everything around me with a great deal of curiosity, for this was my first glimpse of the world as a zombie.

“‘That’s a rather pretty eye,’ remarked the Munchling, who was watching the farmer. ‘Like blue paint. Just the colour for eyes.’

“‘I think I’ll make the other a little bigger,’ said the farmer. And when the second eye was done I could see much better than before. Then he cleaned out my nose and my mouth. But I did not speak, because at that time I didn’t recall what a mouth was for. I had the fun of watching them repair my body and my arms and legs; and when they fastened on my head, at last, I felt very proud, for I thought I was just as good a man as anyone.

“‘This fellow will scare the crows fast enough,’ said the farmer. ‘He looks just like a man.’

“‘Why, he is a man,’ said the other, and I quite agreed with him. The farmer carried me under his arm to Spitalfields, and set me up with a tall walking stick, where I found myself proficient again in a very short time. He and his friend soon after walked away and left me alone. I returned to my house on Saddle Row, with none the wiser as to my absence.

“But over the next few days I became aware of the most ravenous appetite, and my prior servant, James Forster, was obliged to lock the poor Munchlings under the stairs, so hungrily did I observe them. The Conform Club reassured me that this was a common ailment, having serviced Dorian Gray before me, and promised to discreetly cater for any craving I experienced. Whether poultry, game, steak, sapient, erect, or exotic creature – nothing would be too much trouble. I could not bring myself to take advantage of their kind offer, and so I adhered to the best of their traditional menu, consuming vast quantities to compensate for my unnatural and voracious desires, and wreaking havoc on my own body by night to suppress my dangerous urges. Like Dr. Jekkyl, so to restrain myself against acts that would be perceived as antisocial and vile. One evening, only this summer, the waiter at the Conform confided that a young woman could be procured for dinner if I wished, as the Bolshoi Ballet were visiting and the understudy would be unlikely missed…”

Just then, as the train was whirling through Sydenham, Pissepotout suddenly uttered a cry of despair.

“What’s the matter?” asked Mr. Flogg.

“Alas! In my hurry – I – I forgot…”

“What?”

“To turn off the gas in my room!”

“Very well, my little yellow friend,” returned Mr. Flogg, coolly. “It will burn – at your expense.”

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