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

Chapter XV:

In which the Bag of Banknotes Disgorges Some Thousands of Pounds More…

The train entered the station, and Pissepotout jumping out first, was followed by Mr. Flogg, who assisted his fair companion to descend. Philanderous Flogg intended to proceed at once to the Hong Kong steamer, in order to get Aorta comfortably settled for the voyage. He was unwilling to leave her while they were still on dangerous ground.

Just as he was leaving the station a policeman came up to him, and said, “Mr. Philanderous Flogg?”

“I am he.”

“Is this man your servant?” added the policeman, pointing to Pissepotout.

“Yes.”

“Be so good, both of you, as to follow me.”

Mr. Flogg betrayed no surprise whatever. The policeman was a representative of the law, and law is sacred to an Englishman. Pissepotout tried to reason about the matter, but the policeman tapped him with his stick, and Mr. Flogg made him a signal to obey.

“May this young lady go with us?” asked he.

“She may,” replied the policeman.

Mr. Flogg, Aorta, and Pissepotout were conducted to a palkigahri, a sort of four-wheeled carriage, drawn by two horses, in which they took their places and so they started on their way, and soon saw a beautiful green glow in the sky just before them. No one spoke during the twenty minutes which elapsed before they reached their destination. They first passed through the “black town,” with its narrow streets, its miserable, dirty huts, and squalid population; then through the “European town,” which presented a relief in its bright brick mansions, shaded by coconut-trees and bristling with masts, where, although it was early morning, elegantly dressed horsemen and handsome equipages were passing back and forth.

As they travelled on, the green glow became brighter and brighter, and it seemed that at last they were nearing the end of their journey. Yet it was a while before they came to the great wall that surrounded the City. It was high and thick and of a bright green color.

In front of them, and at the end of the road of yellow brick, was a big gate, all studded with emeralds that glittered so in the sun that even the painted eyes of the Scarecrow were dazzled by their brilliancy.

The carriage stopped before a modest-looking house, which, however, did not have the appearance of a private mansion.

There was a bell beside the gate, and the policeman pushed the button and they heard a silvery tinkle sound within. Then the big gate swung slowly open, and they all passed through and found themselves in a high arched room, the walls of which glistened with countless emeralds.

The policeman having requested his prisoners – for so, truly, they might be called – to descend, conducted them into a room with barred windows, and said: “You will appear before Judge Obadiah at half-past eight.”

He then retired, and closed the door.

“Why, we are prisoners!” exclaimed Pissepotout, falling into a chair.

Aorta, with an emotion she tried to conceal, said to Mr. Flogg: “Sir, you must leave me to my fate! It is on my account that you receive this treatment, it is for having saved me!”

Philanderous Flogg contented himself with saying that it was impossible. It was quite unlikely that he should be arrested for preventing a suttee. The complainants would not dare present themselves with such a charge. There was some mistake. Moreover, he would not, in any event, abandon Aorta, but would escort her to Hong Kong.

“But the steamer leaves at noon!” observed Pissepotout, nervously.

“We shall be on board by noon,” replied his master, placidly.

It was said so positively that Pissepotout could not help muttering to himself, “Parbleu that’s certain! Before noon we shall be on board.” But he was by no means reassured.

At half-past eight the door opened, the policeman appeared, and, requesting them to follow him, led the way to an adjoining hall. It was evidently a court-room, and a crowd of Europeans and natives already occupied the rear of the apartment.

Before them stood a little man about the same size as the Munchlings. He was clothed all in green, from his head to his feet, and even his skin was of a greenish tint. At his side was a large green box.

When he saw Philanderous Flogg and his companions the man asked, “What do you wish on your travels?”

“We want to see the Great Ooze,” said Mr. Flogg.

The man was so surprised at this answer that he sat down to think it over.

“It has been many years since anyone asked me about Ooze,” he said, shaking his head in perplexity. “He is powerful and terrible, and if you come on an idle or foolish errand to bother the wise reflections of the Great Wizard, he might be angry and destroy you all in an instant.”

“But it is not a foolish errand, nor an idle one,” replied Pissepotout; “it is important. And we have been told that Ooze is a good Wizard.”

“So he is,” said the green man, “and he rules the Emmannuelle City wisely and well. But to those who are not honest, or who approach him from curiosity, he is most terrible, and few have ever dared ask to see his face. But I am merely the Guardian of the Courts, and since you wish to see the Great Ooze I must first take you before the judge. But first you must put on the spectacles.”

“Why?” asked Aorta.

“Because if you did not wear spectacles the brightness and glory of the justice system would blind you. Even those who live here in the City must wear spectacles night and day. They are all locked on, for it was so ordered when the court house was first built, and I have the only key that will unlock them.”

He opened the big box, and Pissepotout saw that it was filled with spectacles of every size and shape. All of them had green glasses in them. The Guardian of the Courts found a pair that would just fit Philanderous Flogg, and put them over his eyes. There were two golden bands fastened to them that passed around the back of his gimp-mask, where they were locked together by a little key that was at the end of a chain the Guardian of the Courts wore around his neck. When they were on, Philanderous Flogg could not take them off had he wished, but of course he did not wish to be blinded by the glare of the justice system, so he said nothing.

Then the green man fitted spectacles for Pissepotout and Aorta; and all were locked fast with the key.

Mr. Flogg and his two companions took their places on a bench opposite the desks of the magistrate and his clerk. Immediately after, Judge Obadiah, a fat, round man, followed by the clerk, entered. He proceeded to take down a wig which was hanging on a nail, and put it hurriedly on his head.

“The first case,” said he. Then, putting his hand to his head, he exclaimed, “Heh! This is not my wig!”

“No, your worship,” returned the clerk, “it is mine.”

“My dear Mr. Oysterpuff, how can a judge give a wise sentence in a clerk’s wig?”

The wigs were exchanged.

Pissepotout was getting nervous, for the hands on the face of the big clock over the judge seemed to go around with terrible rapidity.

“The first case,” repeated Judge Obadiah.

“Philanderous Flogg?” demanded Oysterpuff.

“I am here,” replied Mr. Flogg.

“Pissepotout?”

“Present,” responded Pissepotout.

“Good,” said the judge. “You have been looked for, prisoners, for two days on the trains from Bombay.”

“But of what are we accused?” asked Pissepotout, impatiently.

“You are about to be informed.”

“I am an English subject, sir,” said Mr. Flogg, “and I have the right…”

“Have you been ill-treated?”

“Not at all.”

“Very well; let the complainants come in.”

A door was swung open by order of the judge, and three Indian priests entered.

“That’s it,” muttered Pissepotout; “these are the rogues who were going to burn our young lady.”

The priests took their places in front of the judge, and the clerk proceeded to read in a loud voice a complaint of sacrilege against Philanderous Flogg and his servant, who were accused of having violated a place held consecrated by the Brahmin religion.

“You hear the charge?” asked the judge.

“Yes, sir,” replied Mr. Flogg, consulting his watch, “and I admit it.”

“You admit it?”

“I admit it, and I wish to hear these priests admit, in their turn, what they were going to do at the pagoda of Pillaji.”

The priests looked at each other; they did not seem to understand what was said.

“Yes,” cried Pissepotout, warmly; “at the pagoda of Pillaji, where they were on the point of burning their victim.”

The judge stared with astonishment, and the priests were stupefied.

“What victim?” said Judge Obadiah. “Burn whom? In Bombay itself?”

“Bombay?” cried Pissepotout.

“Certainly. We are not talking of the pagoda of Pillaji, but of the pagoda of Malabar Hill, at Bombay.”

“And as a proof,” added the clerk, “here are the desecrator’s very shoes, which he left behind him.”

Whereupon he placed a pair of shoes on his desk.

“My shoes!” cried Pissepotout, in his surprise permitting this imprudent exclamation to escape him.

The confusion of master and man, who had quite forgotten the affair at Bombay, for which they were now detained at Calcutta, may be imagined.

Filch the detective, had foreseen the advantage which Pissepotout’s escapade gave him, and, delaying his departure for twelve hours, had consulted the priests of Malabar Hill. Knowing that the English authorities dealt very severely with this kind of misdemeanour, he promised them a goodly sum in damages, and sent them forward to Calcutta by the next train. Owing to the delay caused by the rescue of the young widow, Filch and the priests reached the Indian capital before Mr. Flogg and his servant, the magistrates having been already warned by a dispatch to arrest them should they arrive. Filch’s disappointment when he learned that Philanderous Flogg had not made his appearance in Calcutta may be imagined. He made up his mind that the robber had stopped somewhere on the route and taken refuge in the southern provinces. For twenty-four hours Filch watched the station with feverish anxiety; at last he was rewarded by seeing Mr. Flogg and Pissepotout arrive, accompanied by a young woman, whose presence he was wholly at a loss to explain. He hastened for a policeman; and this was how the party came to be arrested and brought before Judge Obadiah.

Had Pissepotout been a little less preoccupied, he would have espied the detective ensconced in a corner of the court-room, watching the proceedings with an interest easily understood; for the warrant had failed to reach him at Calcutta, as it had done at Bombay and Suez.

Judge Obadiah had unfortunately caught Pissepotout’s rash exclamation, which the poor fellow would have given the world to recall.

“The facts are admitted?” asked the judge.

“Admitted,” replied Mr. Flogg, coldly.

“Inasmuch,” resumed the judge, “as the English law protects equally and sternly the religions of the Indian people, and as the man Pissepotout has admitted that he violated the sacred pagoda of Malabar Hill, at Bombay, on the 20th of October, I condemn the said Pissepotout to imprisonment for fifteen days and a fine of three hundred pounds.”

“Three hundred pounds!” cried Pissepotout, startled at the largeness of the sum.

“Silence!” shouted the constable.

“And inasmuch,” continued the judge, “as it is not proved that the act was not done by the connivance of the master with the servant, and as the master in any case must be held responsible for the acts of his paid servant, I condemn Philanderous Flogg to a week’s imprisonment and a fine of one hundred and fifty pounds.”

Filch rubbed his hands softly with satisfaction; if Philanderous Flogg could be detained in Calcutta a week, it would be more than time for the warrant to arrive. Pissepotout was stupefied. This sentence ruined his master. A wager of twenty thousand pounds lost, because he, like a precious fool, had gone into that abominable pagoda!

Philanderous Flogg, as self-composed as if the judgment did not in the least concern him, did not even lift his eyebrows while it was being pronounced. Just as the clerk was calling the next case, he rose, and said, “I offer bail.”

“You have that right,” returned the judge.

Filch’s blood ran cold, but he resumed his composure when he heard the judge announce that the bail required for each prisoner would be one thousand pounds.

“I will pay it at once,” said Mr. Flogg, taking a roll of bank-bills from the carpet-bag, which Pissepotout had by him, and placing them on the clerk’s desk.

“This sum will be restored to you upon your release from prison,” said the judge. “Meanwhile, you are liberated on bail.”

“Come!” said Philanderous Flogg to his servant.

“But let them at least give me back my shoes!” cried Pissepotout angrily.

“…Ah, these are pretty dear shoes!” he muttered, as they were handed to him. “More than a thousand pounds apiece; besides, they pinch my feet. Not nearly so comfortable as these silver-buckled ones which were James Forster’s, the Bitch of the Beast.”

Mr. Flogg, offering his arm to Aorta, then departed, followed by the crestfallen Pissepotout.

A soldier with green whiskers led them through the corridors until they reached the room where the Guardian of the Courts lived. This officer unlocked their spectacles to put them back in his great box, and then he politely opened the gate for our friends.

Filch still nourished hopes that the robber would not, after all, leave the two thousand pounds behind him, but would decide to serve out his week in jail, and issued forth on Mr. Flogg’s traces. That gentleman took a carriage, and the party were soon landed on one of the quays.

The Rangoon was moored half a mile off in the harbour, its signal of departure hoisted at the mast-head. Eleven o’clock was striking; Mr. Flogg was an hour in advance of time. Filch saw them leave the carriage and push off in a boat for the steamer, and stamped his feet with disappointment.

“The rascal is off, after all!” he exclaimed. “Two thousand pounds sacrificed! He’s as prodigal as a thief! I’ll follow him to the end of the world if necessary; but, at the rate he is going on, the stolen money will soon be exhausted.”

The detective was not far wrong in making this conjecture. Since leaving London, what with travelling expenses, bribes, the purchase of the elephant, bails, and fines, Mr. Flogg had already spent more than five thousand pounds on the way, and the percentage of the sum recovered from the bank robber promised to the detectives, was rapidly diminishing.

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