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

Chapter X:

In which Pissepotout is Only Too Glad to Get Off With the Loss of His Shoes…

Everybody knows that the great reversed triangle of land, with its base in the north and its apex in the south, which is called India, embraces fourteen hundred thousand square miles, upon which is spread unequally a population of one hundred and eighty millions of souls. The British Crown exercises a real and despotic dominion over the larger portion of this vast country, and has a governor-general stationed at Calcutta, governors at Madras, Bombay, and in Bengal, and a lieutenant-governor at Agra.

But British India, properly so called, only embraces seven hundred thousand square miles, and a population of from one hundred to one hundred and ten millions of inhabitants. A considerable portion of India is still free from British authority; and there are certain ferocious rajahs in the interior who are absolutely independent. The celebrated East India Company was all-powerful from 1756, when the English first gained a foothold on the spot where now stands the city of Madras, down to the time of the great Sepoy insurrection. It gradually annexed province after province, purchasing them of the native chiefs, whom it seldom paid, and appointed the governor-general and his subordinates, civil and military. But the East India Company has now passed away, leaving the British possessions in India directly under the control of the Crown. The aspect of the country, as well as the manners and distinctions of race, is daily changing, contributing to the hypertensive frustration and gnashing of teeth by the editors of Wikipedia.

Formerly one was obliged to travel in India by the old cumbrous methods of going on foot or on horseback, in palanquins or unwieldy coaches; now fast steamboats ply on the Indus and the Ganges, and a great railway, with branch lines joining the main line at many points on its route, traverses the peninsula from Bombay to Calcutta in three days. This railway does not run in a direct line across India. The distance between Bombay and Calcutta, as the bird flies, is only from one thousand to eleven hundred miles; but the deflections of the road increase this distance by more than a third. Needless to say, the birds care little for this.

The general route of the Great Indian Peninsula Railway is as follows: Leaving Bombay, it passes through Salcette, crossing to the continent opposite Tannah, goes over the chain of the Western Ghauts, runs thence north-east as far as Burhampoor, skirts the nearly independent territory of Bundelcund, ascends to Allahabad, turns thence eastwardly, meeting the Ganges at Benares, then departs from the river a little, and, descending south-eastward by Burdivan and the French town of Chandernagor, has its terminus at Calcutta.

The passengers of the Mongolian Falcon went ashore at half-past four p.m; at exactly eight the train would start for Calcutta.

Mr. Flogg, after bidding good-bye to his Grist partners, donned his well-oiled tin armour to protect the public in case he suffered an acute attack of dissociative fugue, left the steamer, gave his servant several errands to do (including the procurement of fresh restrictive contraptions suitable for the climate) urged it upon him to be at the station promptly at eight, and, with his regular step, which beat to the second, like an astronomical clock, directed his steps to the passport office.

As for the wonders of Bombay – its famous city hall, its splendid library, its forts and docks, its bazaars, mosques, synagogues, its Armenian churches, and the noble pagoda on Malabar Hill, with its two polygonal towers – he cared not a straw to see them. He would not deign to examine even the masterpieces of Elephanta, or the mysterious hypogea, concealed south-east from the docks, or those fine remains of Buddhist architecture, the Kanherian grottoes of the island of Salcette. To his mind, they were unlikely to provide a source of comfort for his malaise and unnatural appetite.

Having transacted his business at the passport office, Philanderous Flogg repaired quietly to the railway station, where he ordered dinner. Among the dishes served up to him, the landlord especially recommended a certain giblet of “native rabbit,” on which he prided himself.

Mr. Flogg accordingly tasted the dish, but, despite its spiced sauce, found it far from palatable. He rang for the landlord, and, on his appearance, said, fixing his clear eyes upon him, “Is this rabbit, sir?”

“Yes, my lord,” the landlord boldly replied, “rabbit from the jungles.”

“And this rabbit did not mew when he was killed?”

“Mew, my lord! What, a rabbit mew! I swear to you…”

“Be so good, landlord, as not to swear, but remember this: cats were formerly considered, in India, as sacred animals. That was a good time.”

“For the cats, my lord?”

“Perhaps for the travellers as well!”

After which Mr. Flogg quietly continued his dinner, adhering mostly to the various breads and vegetable dishes; although his stomach and bowel complained loudly from the lack of meat, triumphantly echoing inside the tin corsetry.

Filch had gone on shore shortly after Mr. Flogg, and his first destination was the headquarters of the Bombay police. He made himself known as a London detective, told his business at Bombay, and the position of affairs relative to the supposed robber, and nervously asked if a warrant had arrived from London. It had not reached the office; indeed, there had not yet been time for it to arrive. Filch was sorely disappointed, and tried to obtain an order of arrest from the director of the Bombay police. This the director refused, as the matter concerned the London office, which alone could legally deliver the warrant. Filch did not insist, and was fain to resign himself to await the arrival of the important document; but he was determined not to lose sight of the mysterious rogue as long as he stayed in Bombay.

“It is connected in my mind,” added he, “with a very odd story.”

“Indeed?” said the director, with a slight change of voice, “and what was that?”

“Well, it was this way,” returned Detective Filch. “I was coming home from some place at the end of the world, about three o’clock of a black winter morning, and my way lay through a part of town where there was literally nothing to be seen but lamps. Street after street, and all the folks asleep – street after street, all lighted up as if for a procession and all as empty as a church – till at last I got into that state of mind when a man listens and listens and begins to long for the sight of a policeman. All at once, I saw two figures: one a little man who was stumping along eastward at a good walk, and the other a girl of maybe eight or ten who was running as hard as she was able down a cross street. Well, sir, the two ran into one another naturally enough at the corner; and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child’s body and left her screaming on the ground. It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see. It wasn’t like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut. I gave a view-halloa, took to my heels, collared my gentleman, and brought him back to where there was already quite a group about the screaming child. He was perfectly cool and made no resistance, but gave me one look, so ugly that it brought out the sweat on me like running. The people who had turned out were the girl’s own family; and pretty soon, the doctor, for whom she had been sent, put in his appearance. Well, the child was not much the worse, more frightened, according to the Sawbones; and there you might have supposed would be an end to it. But there was one curious circumstance. I had taken a loathing to my gentleman at first sight. So had the child’s family, which was only natural. But the doctor’s case was what struck me. He was the usual cut-and-dry apothecary, of no particular age and colour, with a strong Edinburgh accent, and about as emotional as a bagpipe. Well, sir, he was like the rest of us; every time he looked at my prisoner, I saw that Sawbones turn sick and white with the desire to kill him. I knew what was in his mind, just as he knew what was in mine; and killing being out of the question, we did the next best. We told the man we could and would make such a scandal out of this, as should make his name stink from one end of London to the other. If he had any friends or any credit, we undertook that he should lose them. And all the time, as we were pitching it in red hot, we were keeping the women off him as best we could, for they were as wild as harpies. I never saw a circle of such hateful faces; and there was the man in the middle, with a kind of black, sneering coolness – frightened too, I could see that – but carrying it off, sir, really like Satan. ‘If you choose to make capital out of this accident,’ said he, ‘I am naturally helpless. No gentleman but wishes to avoid a scene,’ says he. ‘Name your figure.’ Well, we screwed him up to a hundred pounds for the child’s family; he would have clearly liked to stick out; but there was something about the lot of us that meant mischief, and at last he struck. The next thing was to get the money; and where do you think he carried us but to that address on Saddle Row? …Whipped out a key, went in through the cellar door, and presently came back with the matter of ten pounds in gold and a cheque for the balance on Coutts’s, drawn payable to bearer and signed with a name that I can’t mention, though it’s one of the points of my story, but it was a name at least very well known and often printed. The figure was stiff; but the signature was good for more than that, if it was only genuine. I took the liberty of pointing out to my gentleman that the whole business looked apocryphal, and that a man does not, in real life, walk into a cellar door at four in the morning and come out of it with another man’s cheque for close upon a hundred pounds. But he was quite easy and sneering. ‘Set your mind at rest,’ says he, ‘I will stay with you till the banks open and cash the cheque myself.’ So we all set off, the doctor, and the child’s father, and our friend and myself, and passed the rest of the night in my chambers; and next day, when we had breakfasted, went in a body to the bank. I gave in the cheque myself, and said I had every reason to believe it was a forgery. Not a bit of it. The cheque was genuine.”

“Tut-tut,” said the director of Bombay police.

“I see you feel as I do,” said Filch. “Yes, it’s a bad story. For my man was a fellow that nobody could have to do with, a really damnable man; James Forster was his name. And the person that drew the cheque, Philanderous Flogg, is the very pink of the proprieties, celebrated too, and (what makes it worse) one of your fellows who do what they call good. Blackmail, I suppose; an honest man paying through the nose for some of the capers of his youth. And now sinking to bank robbery, to pay off his pursuers. Blackmail House is what I call that place with the cellar door, in consequence. Though even that, you know, is far from explaining all,” he added, and with the words fell into a vein of musing.

From this he was recalled by the director asking rather suddenly: “And you don’t know if the drawer of the cheque lives there?”

“A likely place, isn’t it?” returned Filch. “But I happen to have noticed his address; he lives in that very square – Burlyman Gardens.”

“And you never asked about the – place with the door?” said the director.

“No, sir: I had a delicacy,” was the reply. “I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgement. You start a question, and it’s like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back-garden and the family have to change their name. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.”

“A very good rule, too,” said the director, nodding at Filch.

He did not doubt for a moment, any more than Pissepotout, that Philanderous Flogg would remain there, at least until it was time for the warrant to arrive.

Pissepotout, however, had no sooner heard his master’s orders on leaving the Mongolian Falcon than he saw at once that they were to leave Bombay as they had done Suez and Paris, and that the journey would be extended at least as far as Calcutta, and perhaps beyond that place. He began to ask himself if this bet that Mr. Flogg talked about was not really in good earnest, and whether his fate was not in truth forcing him, despite his love of repose, around the world in eighty days!

Having purchased the usual quota of shirts and shoes, and some stout rope from a snake-charmer, he took a leisurely promenade about the streets, where crowds of people of many nationalities – Europeans, Persians with pointed caps, Banyas with round turbans, Sindes with square bonnets, Parsees with black mitres, and long-robed Armenians – were collected. It happened to be the day of a Parsee festival. These descendants of the sect of Zoroaster – the most thrifty, civilised, intelligent, and austere of the East Indians, among whom are counted the richest native merchants of Bombay – were celebrating a sort of religious carnival, with processions and shows, in the midst of which Indian dancing-girls, clothed in rose-coloured gauze, looped up with gold and silver, danced airily, but with perfect modesty, to the sound of viols and the clanging of tambourines. It is needless to say that Pissepotout watched these curious ceremonies with staring eyes and gaping mouth, and that his countenance was that of the greenest booby imaginable.

Unhappily for his master, as well as himself, his curiosity drew him unconsciously farther off than he intended to go. At last, having seen the Parsee carnival wind away in the distance, he was turning his steps towards the station, when he happened to espy the splendid pagoda on Malabar Hill, and was seized with an irresistible desire to see its interior. He was quite ignorant that it is forbidden to canines to enter certain Indian temples, and that even the faithful must not go in without first leaving their shoes outside the door. It may be said here that the wise policy of the British Government severely punishes a disregard of the practices of the native religions.

Pissepotout, however, thinking no harm, went in like a simple tourist, and was soon lost in admiration of the splendid Brahmin ornamentation which everywhere met his eyes, when of a sudden he found himself sprawling on the sacred flagging. He looked up to behold three enraged priests, who forthwith fell upon him; tore off his shoes, and began to beat him with loud, savage exclamations. The agile French poodle was soon upon his feet again, and lost no time in knocking down two of his long-gowned adversaries with his paws and a vigorous application of his tail and snapping teeth; then, rushing out of the pagoda as fast as his legs could carry him, he soon escaped the third priest by mingling with the crowd in the streets.

At five minutes before eight, Pissepotout, hatless, shoeless, and having in the squabble lost his package of rope, shirts and shoes, rushed breathlessly to the station.

During the rest of that day there was no other adventure to mar the peace of their journey. Once, indeed, the tin-gimped Philanderous Flogg stepped upon a beetle that was crawling along the platform, and killed the poor little thing. This made Mr. Flogg very unhappy, for he was always careful not to hurt any living creature; and as he walked along he wept several tears of sorrow and regret. These tears ran slowly down his face and over the hinges of his jaw, and there they rusted. When Pissepotout presently asked him a question, the Tin Gimp could not open his mouth, for his jaws were tightly rusted together. He became greatly frightened at this and made many motions to Pissepotout to relieve him, but he could not understand, and was at first afraid. But then he seized the oil-can and oiled his tin master’s jaws, so that after a few moments he could talk as well as before.

“This will serve me a lesson,” said he, “to look where I step. For if I should kill another bug or beetle I should surely cry again, and crying rusts my jaws so that I cannot speak.”

Thereafter he walked very carefully, with his eyes on the road, and when he saw a tiny ant toiling by he would step over it, so as not to harm it. Philanderous Flogg knew very well he had no functioning heart, and therefore he took great care never to be cruel or unkind to anything.

Filch, who had followed Mr. Flogg to the station, and saw that he was really going to leave Bombay, was there, upon the platform. He had resolved to follow the supposed robber to Calcutta, and farther, if necessary. Pissepotout did not observe the detective, who stood in an obscure corner; but Filch heard him relate his adventures in a few words to Mr. Flogg.

At that moment Pissepotout saw in the carpet-bag the silver-buckled shoes that had belonged to James Forster, the Bitch of the Beast.

“I wonder if they will fit me,” he said to Philanderous Flogg. “They would be just the thing to take a long walk in, for they could not wear out.”

He dusted off his old paws and tried on the silver-buckled pair, which fitted him as well as if they had been made for him.

“I hope that this will not happen again,” said Philanderous Flogg coldly, as he got into the train. Poor Pissepotout, quite crestfallen, followed his master without a word, his new shoes tinkling along the platform. Filch was on the point of entering another carriage, when an idea struck him which induced him to alter his plan. The City of Emmannuelle and the Great Ooze would have to wait.

“No, I’ll stay,” muttered he. “An offence has been committed on Indian soil. I’ve got my man.”

Just then the locomotive gave a sharp screech, and the train passed out into the darkness of the night.

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

Chapter IX

In which the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean Prove Propitious
to the Designs of Philanderous Flogg

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 Mongolian Falcon, 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 Mongolian Falcon. 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 Mongolian Falcon 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 Philanderous Flogg 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 Mongolian Falcon 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 Conform 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 Mongolian Falcon? 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 Grist 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. Flogg, played Grist by the hour together in absorbing silence.

And by night, of course, there was the matter of the restraints.

“Tighter, Piss-pot-oto!” Philanderous Flogg ordered, bracing himself against the bed-post.

Pissepotout obligingly put all of his canine weight against the straps of the leather and whalebone corset, until he was nearly prone on the floor of the cabin.

“I worry that monsieur will be quite crushed by the thing,” he said in concern, as the buckles were finally closed.

“My undead organs feel no pain, my little yellow friend,” Mr. Flogg assured him. “And it is the only way to suppress the appetite until dawn. For if I were allowed to promenade around loose at the dead of the night, in the confines of a ship at sea, with a number of ladies aboard…”

Oui, monsieur,” Pissepotout assented, as he attached the manacles in turn and prepared to ratchet up the chains. “I understand.”

As for Pissepotout, 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 Englishman…”

“Just so, monsieur…”

“Filch.”

“Monsieur Filch,” resumed Pissepotout, “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 Peculiar Company.”

“Then you know India?”

“Why yes,” replied Filch, 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 sights.”

“I hope so, Monsieur Filch. 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. Flogg is getting on well?” asked Filch, in the most natural tone in the world.

“Quite well, and I too. Like him, I now 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. Pissepotout, that this pretended tour in eighty days may conceal some secret errand – perhaps a diplomatic mission?”

“Faith, Monsieur Filch, I assure you I know nothing about it, nor would I give half a crown to find out.”

After this meeting, Pissepotout and Filch got into the habit of chatting together, the latter making it a point to gain the worthy pet’s confidence. He frequently offered him a glass of whiskey or pale ale in the steamer bar-room, which Pissepotout never failed to accept with graceful alacrity, mentally pronouncing Filch the best of good fellows.

“Are you made of tin, or stuffed?” asked the detective, during one of these longer sessions in the bar.

“Neither. I am aaa meat dog,” said the French poodle.

“Oh! You are a curious animal and seem remarkably small, now that I look at you. No one would think of biting such a little thing, except a coward like me,” continued Filch sadly.

“What makes you a coward?” asked Pissepotout, looking at the great beast in wonder, for he was as big as a small horse.

“It’s a mystery,” replied Filch. “I suppose I was born that way. All the other animals in the office naturally expect me to be brave, for the official is everywhere thought to be the King of Beasts. I learned that if I roared very loudly, every living thing was frightened and got out of my way. Whenever I’ve met a man I’ve been awfully scared; but I just roared at him, and he has always run away as fast as he could go. If the elephants and the tigers and the bears had ever tried to fight me, I should have run myself – I’m such a coward; but just as soon as they hear me roar they all try to get away from me, and of course I let them go.”

“But that isn’t right. The King of Beasts shouldn’t be a coward,” said Pissepotout.

“I know it,” returned Filch, wiping a tear from his eye. “It is my great sorrow, and makes my life very unhappy. But whenever there is danger, my heart begins to beat fast.”

“Perhaps you have heart disease,” said Pissepotout.

“It may be,” said the detective. “But I am scared of seeing the doctor too. I would rather die of the heart disease than see the doctor.”

“If you have,” continued the French poodle, “you ought to be glad, for it proves you have a heart. For my part, I have no heart; so I cannot have heart disease.”

“Perhaps,” said Filch thoughtfully, “if I had no heart I should not be a coward.”

“I would have yours in an instant,” said Pissepotout. “But a cowardly heart would never fall in love, so it would be of no use to a heartless creature such as me.”

“Have you brains?” asked the detective.

“I suppose so. I’ve never looked to see,” replied Pissepotout.

“I am going to the Great Ooze to ask him to give me some,” remarked the detective, “for my head is stuffed with straw.”

“And I am going to ask him to send me back to Cannes,” said Pissepotout.

“Then, if you don’t mind, I’ll go with you,” said Filch, “for my life is simply unbearable without a brain.”

“You will be very welcome,” answered Pissepotout, “for you will help to keep away the other wild beasts. It seems to me they must be more cowardly than you are if they allow you to scare them so easily.”

“They really are,” said Filch, “but that doesn’t make me any braver, and as long as I know myself to be a coward I shall be unhappy.”

Meanwhile the Mongolian Falcon 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. Pissepotout 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 Peculiar Company some eight hundred thousand pounds a year. In these distant seas, coal is worth three or four pounds sterling a ton.

The Mongolian Falcon 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 Philanderous Flogg’s programme; besides, the Mongolian Falcon, 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. Flogg and his servant went ashore at Aden to have the passport again visaed; Filch, unobserved, followed them. The visa procured, Mr. Flogg returned on board to resume his former mysterious habits; while Pissepotout, 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 Pissepotout 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 Mongolian Falcon 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 Pissepotout was enchanted with the congenial companion which chance had secured him in the person of the delightful Filch.

“Never marry a woman with straw-coloured hair, Pissepotout,” he said on another occasion at the bar, after a few puffs on his pipe.

“Why, Monsieur Filch?”

“Because they are so sentimental.”

“But I like sentimental people.”

“Never marry at all, Pissepotout. Men marry because they are tired; women, because they are curious: Both are disappointed.”

“I don’t think I am likely to marry, monsieur. I am too much in love. That is one of your aphorisms. I am putting it into practice, as I do everything that you say.”

“Who are you in love with?” asked Filch, after a pause.

“With an actress,” said Pissepotout, blushing.

Detective Filch shrugged his shoulders. “That is a rather commonplace debut.”

“You would not say so if you saw her, my friend.”

“Who is she?”

“Her name is Aorta.”

“Never heard of her.”

“No one has. People will some day, however. She is a genius.”

“My dear boy, no woman is a genius. Women are a decorative sex. They never have anything to say, but they say it charmingly. Women represent the triumph of matter over mind, just as men represent the triumph of mind over morals.”

“Filch, how can you?”

“My dear Pissepotout, it is quite true. I am analysing women at present, so I ought to know. The subject is not so abstruse as I thought it was. I find that, ultimately, there are only two kinds of women, the plain and the coloured. The plain women are very useful. If you want to gain a reputation for respectability, you have merely to take them down to supper. The other women are very charming. They commit one mistake, however. They paint in order to try and look young. Our grandmothers painted in order to try and talk brilliantly. Rouge and esprit used to go together. That is all over now. As long as a woman can look ten years younger than her own daughter, she is perfectly satisfied. As for conversation, there are only five women in London worth talking to, and two of these can’t be admitted into decent society. However, tell me about your genius. How long have you known her?”

“Ah! Filch, your views terrify me.”

“Never mind that. How long have you known her?”

“About three weeks.”

“And where did you come across her?”

“I will tell you, Filch, but you mustn’t be unsympathetic about it. As I lounged in the park, or strolled down Piccadilly, I used to look at every one who passed me and wonder, with a mad curiosity, what sort of lives they led. Some of them fascinated me. Others filled me with terror. There was an exquisite poison in the air. I had a passion for sensations… Well, one evening about seven o’clock, I determined to go out in search of some adventure. I felt that this gray monstrous London of ours, with its myriads of people, its sordid sinners, and its splendid sins, as you once phrased it, must have something in store for me. I fancied a thousand things. The mere danger gave me a sense of delight. I don’t know what I expected, but I went out and wandered eastward, soon losing my way in a labyrinth of grimy streets and black grassless squares. About half-past eight I passed by an absurd little theatre, with great flaring gas-jets and gaudy play-bills. A hideous Jew, in the most amazing waistcoat I ever beheld in my life, was standing at the entrance, smoking a vile cigar. He had greasy ringlets, and an enormous diamond blazed in the centre of a soiled shirt. ‘Have a box, my Lord?’ he said, when he saw me, and he took off his hat with an air of gorgeous servility. There was something about him, Filch, that amused me. He was such a monster. You will laugh at me, I know, but I really went in and paid a whole guinea for the stage-box. To the present day I can’t make out why I did so; and yet if I hadn’t – my dear friend, if I hadn’t – I should have missed the greatest romance of my life. I see you are laughing. It is horrid of you!”

“I am not laughing, Pissepotout; at least I am not laughing at you. But you should not say the greatest romance of your life. You should say the first romance of your life. You will always be loved, and you will always be in love with love. A grande passion is the privilege of people who have nothing to do. That is the one use of the idle classes of a country. Don’t be afraid. There are exquisite things in store for you. This is merely the beginning.”

“Do you think my nature so shallow?” cried Pissepotout angrily.

“No; I think your nature so deep.”

“How do you mean?”

“My dear friend, the people who love only once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty, and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagination. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the intellectsimply a confession of failure. Faithfulness! I must analyse it some day. The passion for property is in it. There are many things that we would throw away if we were not afraid that others might pick them up. But I don’t want to interrupt you. Go on with your story.”

“Well, I found myself seated in a horrid little private box, with a vulgar drop-scene staring me in the face. I looked out from behind the curtain and surveyed the house. It was a tawdry affair, all Cupids and cornucopias, like a third-rate wedding-cake. The gallery and pit were fairly full, but the two rows of dingy stalls were quite empty, and there was hardly a person in what I suppose they called the dress-circle. Women went about with oranges and ginger-beer, and there was a terrible consumption of nuts going on.”

“It must have been just like the palmy days of the British drama.”

“Just like, I should fancy, and very depressing. I began to wonder what on earth I should do when I caught sight of the play-bill. What do you think the play was, Filch?”

“I should think ‘The Idiot Boy’, or ‘Dumb but Innocent’. Our fathers used to like that sort of piece, I believe. The longer I live, Pissepotout, the more keenly I feel that whatever was good enough for our fathers is not good enough for us. In art, as in politics, les grandperes ont toujours tort.”

“This play was good enough for us, Filch. It was Romeo and Juliet. I must admit that I was rather annoyed at the idea of seeing Shakespeare done in such a wretched hole of a place. Still, I felt interested, in a sort of way. At any rate, I determined to wait for the first act. There was a dreadful orchestra, presided over by a young Hebrew who sat at a cracked piano, that nearly drove me away, but at last the drop-scene was drawn up and the play began. Romeo was a stout elderly gentleman, with corked eyebrows, a husky tragedy voice, and a figure like a beer-barrel. Mercutio was almost as bad. He was played by the low-comedian, who had introduced gags of his own and was on most friendly terms with the pit. They were both as grotesque as the scenery, and that looked as if it had come out of a country-booth. But Juliet! Filch, imagine a girl, hardly seventeen years of age, with a little, flowerlike face, a small Greek head with plaited coils of dark-brown hair, eyes that were violet wells of passion, lips that were like the petals of a rose. She was the loveliest thing I had ever seen in my life. You said to me once that pathos left you unmoved, but that beauty, mere beauty, could fill your eyes with tears. I tell you, my friend, I could hardly see this girl for the mist of tears that came across me. And her voice – I never heard such a voice. It was very low at first, with deep mellow notes that seemed to fall singly upon one’s ear. Then it became a little louder, and sounded like a flute or a distant hautboy. In the garden-scene it had all the tremulous ecstasy that one hears just before dawn when nightingales are singing. There were moments, later on, when it had the wild passion of violins. You know how a voice can stir one. Your voice and the voice of Aorta are two things that I shall never forget. When I close my eyes, I hear them, and each of them says something different. I don’t know which to follow. Why should I not love her? Filch, I do love her. She is everything to me in life. Night after night I go to see her play. One evening she is Rosalind, and the next evening she is Imogen. I have seen her die in the gloom of an Italian tomb, sucking the poison from her lover’s lips. I have watched her wandering through the forest of Arden, disguised as a pretty boy in hose and doublet and dainty cap. She has been mad, and has come into the presence of a guilty king, and given him rue to wear and bitter herbs to taste of. She has been innocent, and the black hands of jealousy have crushed her reedlike throat. I have seen her in every age and in every costume. Ordinary women never appeal to one’s imagination. They are limited to their century. No glamour ever transfigures them. One knows their minds as easily as one knows their bonnets. One can always find them. There is no mystery in any of them. They ride in the park in the morning and chatter at tea-parties in the afternoon. They have their stereotyped smile and their fashionable manner. They are quite obvious. But an actress! How different an actress is! Filch! Why didn’t you tell me that the only thing worth loving is an actress?”

“Because I have loved so many of them, Pissepotout.”

“Oh, yes, horrid people with dyed hair and painted faces.”

“Don’t run down dyed hair and painted faces. There is an extraordinary charm in them, sometimes,” said Filch.

“I wish now I had not told you about Aorta.”

“You could not have helped telling me, Pissepotout. All through your life you will tell me everything you do.”

“Yes, Filch, I believe that is true. I cannot help telling you things. You have a curious influence over me. If I ever did a crime, I would come and confess it to you. You would understand me.”

“People like you – the wilful sunbeams of life – don’t commit crimes, Pissepotout. But I am much obliged for the compliment, all the same. And now tell me – reach me the matches, like a good boy – thanks – what are your actual relations with Aorta?”

The French poodle leaped to his feet, with flushed cheeks and burning eyes. “Filch! Aorta is sacred!”

“It is only the sacred things that are worth touching, Pissepotout,” said Filch, with a strange touch of pathos in his voice. “But why should you be annoyed? I suppose she will belong to you some day. When one is in love, one always begins by deceiving one’s self, and one always ends by deceiving others. That is what the world calls a romance. You know her, at any rate, I suppose?”

“Of course I know her. On the first night I was at the theatre, the horrid old Jew came round to the box after the performance was over and offered to take me behind the scenes and introduce me to her. I was furious with him, and told him that Juliet had been dead for hundreds of years and that her body was lying in a marble tomb in Verona. I think, from his blank look of amazement, that he was under the impression that I had taken too much champagne, or something.”

“I am not surprised.”

“Then he asked me if I wrote for any of the newspapers. I told him I never even read them. He seemed terribly disappointed at that, and confided to me that all the dramatic critics were in a conspiracy against him, and that they were every one of them to be bought.”

“I should not wonder if he was quite right there. But, on the other hand, judging from their appearance, most of them cannot be at all expensive.”

“Well, he seemed to think they were beyond his means,” laughed Pissepotout.

“By this time, however, the lights were being put out in the theatre, and I had to go. He wanted me to try some cigars that he strongly recommended. I declined. The next night, of course, I arrived at the place again. When he saw me, he made me a low bow and assured me that I was a munificent patron of art. He was a most offensive brute, though he had an extraordinary passion for Shakespeare. He told me once, with an air of pride, that his five bankruptcies were entirely due to ‘The Bard,’ as he insisted on calling him. He seemed to think it a distinction.”

“It was a distinction, my dear Pissepotout – a great distinction. Most people become bankrupt through having invested too heavily in the prose of life. To have ruined one’s self over poetry is an honour. But when did you first speak to Miss Aorta?”

“The third night. She had been playing Rosalind. I could not help going round. I had thrown her some flowers, and she had looked at me – at least I fancied that she had. The old Jew was persistent. He seemed determined to take me behind, so I consented. It was curious my not wanting to know her, wasn’t it?”

“No; I don’t think so.”

“My dear Filch, why?”

“I will tell you some other time. Now I want to know about the girl.”

“Aorta? Oh, she was so shy and so gentle. There is something of a child about her. Her eyes opened wide in exquisite wonder when I told her what I thought of her performance, and she seemed quite unconscious of her power. I think we were both rather nervous. The old Jew stood grinning at the doorway of the dusty greenroom, making elaborate speeches about us both, while we stood looking at each other like children. He would insist on calling me ‘My Lord,’ so I had to assure Aorta that I was not anything of the kind. She said quite simply to me, ‘You look more like a prince. I must call you Prince Charming.'”

“Upon my word, friend, Miss Aorta knows how to pay compliments.”

“You don’t understand her, monsieur. She regarded me merely as a person in a play. She knows nothing of life. She lives with her mother, a faded tired woman who played Lady Capulet in a sort of magenta dressing-wrapper on the first night, and looks as if she had seen better days.”

“I know that look. It depresses me,” murmured Detective Filch, examining his rings.

“The Jew wanted to tell me her history, but I said it did not interest me.”

“You were quite right. There is always something infinitely mean about other people’s tragedies.”

“Aorta is the only thing I care about. What is it to me where she came from? From her little head to her little feet, she is absolutely and entirely divine. Every night of my life I go to see her act, and every night she is more marvellous.”

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.

Philanderous Flogg 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 brilliant victory.

The Mongolian Falcon was due at Bombay on the 22nd; she arrived on the 20th. This was a gain to Philanderous Flogg of two days since his departure from London, and he calmly entered the fact in the itinerary, in the column of gains.

The weather, he mused, would now be far too hot and humid for the leather apparatus, while the tin gimp-suit, with its tendency to rust, would be excruciatingly inappropriate. Some alternatives would soon have to be procured, in order to prevent a nocturnal tragedy.

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

Chapter VIII

In which Pissepotout Talks Rather More, Perhaps, Than is Prudent

Filch soon rejoined Pissepotout, who was lounging and looking about on the quay, as if he did not feel that he, at least, was obliged not to see anything.

“Well, my friend,” said the detective, coming up with him, “is your passport visaed?”

“Ah, it’s you, is it, monsieur?” responded Pissepotout. “Thanks, yes, the passport is all right.”

“And you are looking about you? For a good time, perhaps? The Villa Negra is within half a day’s reach by camel from here.”

“Yes; but we travel so fast that I seem to be journeying in a dream. So this is Suez?”

“Yes.”

“In Egypt?”

“Certainly, in Egypt.”

“And in Africa?”

“In Africa.”

“In Africa!” repeated Pissepotout. “Just think, monsieur, I had no idea that we should go farther than Paris; and all that I saw of Paris was between twenty minutes past seven and twenty minutes before nine in the morning, between the Northern and the Lyons stations, through the windows of a car, and in a driving rain! How I regret not having seen once more Pere la Chaise, and the circus in the Moulin Rouge and Champs Elysees!”

“You are in a great hurry, then?”

“I am not, but my master is. By the way, I must buy some shoes and shirts. We came away without trunks, only with a carpet-bag, and bought little in Paris other than a selection of emergency gimp-wear for my master’s nightly restraints.”

“I will show you an excellent shop for getting what you want.”

“Really, monsieur, you are very kind.”

And they walked off together, Pissepotout chatting volubly as they went along.

“Above all,” said he; “don’t let me lose the steamer.”

“You have plenty of time; it’s only twelve o’clock.”

Pissepotout pulled out his big watch. “Twelve!” he exclaimed; “why, it’s only eight minutes before ten.”

“Your watch is slow.”

“My watch? A family watch, monsieur, which has come down from my great-grandfather! It doesn’t vary five minutes in the year. It’s a perfect chronometer, look you.”

“I see how it is,” said Filch. “You have kept London time, which is two hours behind that of Suez. You ought to regulate your watch at noon in each country.”

“I regulate my watch? Never!”

“Well, then, it will not agree with the sun.”

“So much the worse for the sun, monsieur. The sun will be wrong, then!”

And the worthy fellow returned the watch to its fob with a defiant gesture. After a few minutes silence, Filch resumed: “You left London hastily, then?”

“I rather think so! Last Friday at eight o’clock in the evening, Monsieur Flogg came home from his club, and three-quarters of an hour afterwards we were off.”

“But where is your master going?”

“We are on our way to the Emmannuelle City to see the Great Ooze,” Pissepotout answered, “and we stopped here thinking to pass the night.”

“Why do you wish to see Ooze?” Filch asked.

“I want him to send me back to Cannes, and the master I think wants him to put a few brains into his head,” the little dog replied, cheekily.

The detective appeared to think deeply for a moment. Then he said:

“Do you suppose Ooze could give me a clue as to where your master is really heading?”

“Always straight ahead. He is going round the world.”

“Round the world?” cried Filch.

“Yes, and in eighty days! He says it is on a wager; but, between us, I don’t believe a word of it. That wouldn’t be common sense. There’s something else in the wind.”

“Ah! Mr. Flogg is a character, is he?”

“I should say he was.”

“Is he rich?”

“No doubt, for he is carrying an enormous sum in brand new banknotes with him. And he doesn’t spare the money on the way, either; he has offered a large reward to the engineer of the Mongolian Falcon if he gets us to Bombay well in advance of time.”

“And you have known your master a long time?”

“Why, no; I entered his service the very day we left London.”

The effect of these replies upon the already suspicious and excited detective may be imagined. The hasty departure from London soon after the robbery; the large sum carried by Mr. Flogg; his eagerness to reach distant countries; the pretext of an eccentric and foolhardy bet – all confirmed Filch in his theory.

He continued to pump poor Pissepotout, and learned that he really knew little or nothing of his master, who lived a solitary existence in London, was said to be rich, though no one knew whence came his riches, and was mysterious and impenetrable in his affairs and peculiar habits.

“Well, I can tell you anything that is in an English Blue Book, Pissepotout, although those fellows nowadays write a lot of nonsense. When I was in the Diplomatic, things were much better. But I hear they let them in now by examination. What can you expect? Examinations, sir, are pure humbug from beginning to end. If a man is a gentleman, he knows quite enough, and if he is not a gentleman, whatever he knows is bad for him.”

“Monsieur Philanderous Flogg does not belong to Blue Books, Monsieur Filch,” said Pissepotout languidly.

“Mr. Philanderous Flogg? Who is he?” asked Filch with rhetorical tact, knitting his bushy eyebrows. The tactic succeeded.

“That is what I have come to learn, Monsieur Filch. Or rather, I know who he is. He is the last Dark Lord of Kessel’s grandson. His mother was a Devourer, Lady Magaroth Devourer. I want someone to tell me about his mother. What was she like? Whom did she marry? You must have known nearly everybody in your time, as man of the world like Monsieur Flogg, so you might have known her. I am very much interested in Monsieur Flogg at present, as I have only just met him.”

“Kessel’s grandson!” echoed the old detective. “Kessel’s grandson…! Of course… I knew his mother intimately. I believe I was at her christening. She was an extraordinarily beautiful girl, Magaroth Devourer, and made all the men frantic by running away with a penniless young fellow, Charles Musgrove Flogg, Esq.a mere nobody, sir, a subaltern in a foot regiment, or something of that kind. Certainly. I remember the whole thing as if it happened yesterday. The poor chap was killed in a duel at Spa a few months after the marriage. There was an ugly story about it. They said Kessel got some rascally adventurer, some Belgian brute, to insult his son-in-law in publicpaid him, sir, to do it, paid himand that the fellow spitted his man as if he had been a spatchcocked hen. The thing was hushed up, but, egad, Kessel ate his chop alone at the Conform Club for some time afterwards. He brought his daughter Magaroth back with him, I was told, and she never spoke to him again. Oh, yes; it was a bad business. The girl died, too, died within a year. So she left a son, did she? I had forgotten that. What sort of man is he, this Philanderous? If he is like his mother, he must be a good-looking chap. I could not tell, beyond his tin faceplate and iron gag earlier.”

“He is very good-looking,” assented Pissepotout. So that was the story of Philanderous Flogg’s parentage. Crudely as it had been told to him, it had yet stirred him by its suggestion of a strange, almost modern romance. A beautiful woman risking everything for a mad passion. A few wild weeks of happiness cut short by a hideous, treacherous crime. Months of voiceless agony, and then a child born in pain. The mother snatched away by death, the boy left to solitude and the tyranny of an old and loveless man. Yes; it was an interesting background. It poised the man, made him more perfect, as it were. Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic. Worlds had to be in travail, that the meanest flower might blow…

Filch, for his part, felt sure now that Philanderous Flogg would not stay overnight at Suez, but was really going on to Bombay.

“Is Bombay far from here?” asked Pissepotout.

“Pretty far. It is a ten days’ voyage by sea.”

“And in what country is Bombay?”

“India.”

“In Asia?”

“Certainly.”

“The deuce! I was going to tell you there’s one thing that worries me – my burner!”

“What burner?”

“My gas-burner, which I forgot to turn off, and which is at this moment burning at my expense. I have calculated, monsieur, that I lose two shillings every four and twenty hours, exactly sixpence more than I earn; and you will understand that the longer our journey…”

Did Filch pay any attention to Pissepotout’s trouble about the gas? It is not probable. He was not listening, but was cogitating a project. Pissepotout and he had now reached the shop, where Filch left his companion to make his purchases, after recommending him not to miss the steamer, and not to handle any products which were not pre-packaged, and hurried back to the consulate.

Now that he was fully convinced, Filch had quite recovered his equanimity.

“Consul,” said he, “I have no longer any doubt. I have spotted my man. He passes himself off as an oddly perverted stick who is going round the world in eighty days.”

“Then he’s a sharp fellow,” returned the consul, “and counts on returning to London after putting the police of the two countries off his track.”

“We’ll see about that,” replied Filch.

“But are you not mistaken?”

“I am not mistaken.”

“Why was this robber so anxious to prove, by the visa, that he had passed through Suez?”

“Why? I have no idea; but listen to me.”

He reported in a few words the most important parts of his conversation with Pissepotout, leaving out mention of the Emmannuelle City and the Great Ooze. About the existence of those, he held doubts.

“In short,” said the consul, “appearances are wholly against this man. And what are you going to do?”

“Send a dispatch to London for a warrant of arrest to be returned instantly to Bombay, take passage on board the Mongolian Falcon, follow my rogue to India, and there, on English ground, arrest him politely, with my warrant in my hand, and my hand on his shoulder. Er, my other hand. I have two of them, as you see. Neither of which will be in any of my pockets at the time.”

Having uttered these words with a cool, careless air, the detective took leave of the consul, and repaired to the telegraph office, whence he sent the dispatch, which we have seen, to the London police office. A quarter of an hour later found Filch, with a small bag in his hand and truncheon down his hosiery, proceeding on board the Mongolian Falcon; and, ere many moments longer, the noble vessel rode out at full steam upon the waters of the Red Sea.

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

Chapter VII

Which Once More Demonstrates the Uselessness of Passports as Aids to Detectives

The detective passed down the quay, and rapidly made his way to the consul’s office, where he was at once admitted to the presence of that official.

“Consul,” said he, without preamble, “I have strong reasons for believing that my man is a passenger on the Mongolian Falcon.” And he narrated what had just passed concerning the passport.

“Well, Mr. Filch,” replied the consul, “I shall not be sorry to see the rascal’s face; but perhaps he won’t come here – that is, if he is the person you suppose him to be. A robber doesn’t quite like to leave traces of his flight behind him; and, besides, he is not obliged to have his passport countersigned.”

“If he is as shrewd as I think he is, consul, he will come.”

“To have his passport visaed?”

“Yes. Passports are only good for annoying honest folks, and aiding in the flight of rogues. I assure you it will be quite the thing for him to do; but I hope you will not visa the passport.”

“Why not? If the passport is genuine I have no right to refuse.”

“Still, I must keep this man here until I can get a warrant to arrest him from London.”

“Ah, that’s your look-out. But I cannot…”

The consul did not finish his sentence, for as he spoke, he was startled to hear a deep groan near by.

“What was that?” he asked timidly.

“I cannot imagine,” replied the detective, “but we can go and see.”

A knock was heard at the door, and a stranger entered, the servant whom Filch had met on the quay.

“Come quickly!” yapped the French poodle.

Just then another groan reached their ears, and the sound seemed to come from behind him. They turned and walked through the corridor a few steps, when the consul discovered something shining in a ray of sunshine that fell between the pillars. He ran to the place and then stopped short, with a little cry of surprise.

“Oh, my!” he cried.

One of the big pillars had been partly smashed through, and standing beside it, with an uplifted crowbar in his hands, was a man made entirely of tin. His head and arms and legs appeared to be jointed upon his body, but he stood perfectly motionless, as if he could not stir at all.

The consul looked at him in amazement, and so did the detective, while Pissepotout barked sharply and made a snap at the tin legs, which hurt his teeth.

“Did you groan?” asked the consul.

“Yes,” answered the Tin Gimp, in a grating, echoing metallic voice that sounded like it came from a hollow pipeline, “I did. I’ve been groaning for more than an hour, and no one has ever heard me before or come to help me.”

“What can I do for you?” he inquired softly, for he was moved by the sad voice in which the man spoke.

“Get an oil-can and oil my joints,” the Tin Gimp answered. “They are rusted so badly that I cannot move them at all; if I am well oiled I shall soon be all right again.”

The consul at once ran back to the office and found the oil-can, and then he returned and asked anxiously, “Where are your joints?”

“Oil my neck, first,” replied the man. So he oiled it, and as it was quite badly rusted the detective Filch took hold of the tin head and moved it gently from side to side until it worked freely, and then the man could turn it himself.

“Now oil the joints in my arms,” he said. And the consul oiled them and the detective bent them carefully until they were quite free from rust and as good as new.

The Tin Gimp gave a sigh of satisfaction and lowered his crowbar, which he leaned against the pillar.

“This is a great comfort,” he said. “I have been holding that crowbar in the air ever since I rusted aboard the Mongolian Falcon at sea, and I’m glad to be able to put it down at last. Now, if you will oil the joints of my legs, I shall be all right once more.”

So they oiled his legs until he could move them freely; and he thanked them again and again for his release, for he seemed a very polite creature, and very grateful.

“I might have stood there always if you had not come along,” he said; “so you have certainly saved my life.”

“Why did you wish to see us?” the consul asked of Pissepotout.

The other, who was his master, held out his passport with the request that the consul would do him the favour to visa it. The consul took the document and carefully read it, whilst Filch observed, or rather devoured, the metal-clad stranger with his eyes from a corner of the room.

“You are Mr. Philanderous Flogg?” said the consul, after reading the passport.

“I am.”

“And this is your servant?”

“He is a French poodle, named Piss-pot-oto.”

“You are from London?”

“Yes.”

“And you are going…”

“To Bombay.”

“Very good, sir. You know that a visa is useless, and that no passport is required?”

“I know it, sir,” replied Philanderous Flogg; “but I wish to prove, by your visa, that I came by Suez.”

“Very well, sir.”

The consul proceeded to sign and date the passport, after which he added his official seal. Mr. Flogg paid the customary fee, coldly bowed, and went out, followed by his servant.

“Well?” queried the detective.

“Well, he looks and acts like a perfectly honest man,” replied the consul.

“Possibly; but that is not the question. Do you think, consul, that this phlegmatic gentleman resembles, feature by feature, the robber whose description I have received?”

“I concede that; but then, you know, all descriptions…”

“I’ll make certain of it,” interrupted Filch. “The servant seems to me less mysterious than the master; besides, he’s French, and can’t help talking. Excuse me for a little while, consul.”

Filch started off in search of Pissepotout.

Meanwhile Mr. Flogg, after leaving the consulate, repaired to the quay, gave some orders for clean gauze, a refill for the oil-can, and extra calamine lotion to Pissepotout, went off to the Mongolian Falcon in a boat, and descended to his cabin. After he had prised off his iron mask and metal corsetry, he took up his note-book, which contained the following memoranda:

Left London, Wednesday, October 2nd, at 8.45 p.m.

Reached Paris, Thursday, October 3rd, at 7.20 a.m.

Left Paris, Thursday, at 8.40 a.m.

Reached Turin by Mont Cenis, Friday, October 4th, at 6.35 a.m.

Left Turin, Friday, at 7.20 a.m.

Arrived at Brindisi, Saturday, October 5th, at 4 p.m.

Sailed on the Mongolian Falcon, Saturday, at 5 p.m.

Rusted solid, Sunday, October 6th, at 3 a.m.

Reached Suez, Wednesday, October 9th, at 11 a.m.

Total of hours spent, 158+; or, in days, six days and a half.

These dates were inscribed in an itinerary divided into columns, indicating the month, the day of the month, and the day for the stipulated and actual arrivals at each principal point Paris, Brindisi, Suez, Bombay, Calcutta, Singapore, Hong Kong, Yokohama, San Francisco, New York, and London – from the 2nd of October to the 21st of December; and giving a space for setting down the gain made or the loss suffered on arrival at each locality. This methodical record thus contained an account of everything needed, and Mr. Flogg always knew whether he was behind-hand or in advance of his time.

On this Friday, October 9th, he noted his arrival at Suez, and observed that he had as yet neither gained nor lost.

He sat down quietly to breakfast in his cabin, his sores soaking pleasantly in calamine, never once thinking of inspecting the town, being one of those Englishmen who are wont to see foreign countries through the eyes of their domestics. Besides – now that the tin corsetry was off, next on the agenda was the leather and whalebone affair, along with copious amounts of talcum powder.

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

Chapter VI

In which Filch, the Detective, Betrays a Very Natural Impatience

The circumstances under which this telegraphic dispatch about Philanderous Flogg was sent were as follows:

The steamer Mongolian Falcon, belonging to the Peculiar and Ornamental Company, built of iron, of two thousand eight hundred tons burden, and five hundred horse-power, complete with on-board casino, bordello and swimming-pool, was due at eleven a.m. on Wednesday, the 9th of October, at Suez. The Mongolian Falcon plied regularly between Brindisi, Italy, and Bombay, India, via the Suez Canal and was one of the fastest steamers belonging to the company, always making more than ten knots an hour between Brindisi and Suez, and nine and a half between Suez and Bombay, but not yet fast enough to cross the ten or twelve parsecs to Kessel in a single run.

Two men were promenading up and down the wharves, among the crowd of natives and strangers who were sojourning at this once straggling village – the farms were not nearly so well cared for here as they were farther back. There were fewer houses and fewer fruit trees, and the farther they went the more dismal and lonesome the country became. But now, thanks to the enterprise of M. Lesseps, a fast-growing town.

One of the men was the British consul at Suez, who, despite the prophecies of the English Government, and the unfavourable predictions of Stephenson, was in the habit of seeing, from his office window, English ships daily passing to and fro on the great canal, by which the old roundabout route from England to India by the Cape of Good Hope was abridged by at least a half. The consul was a man of a rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary, and yet somehow lovable. At friendly meetings, and when the wine was to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye; something indeed which never found its way into his talk, but which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner face, but more often and loudly in the acts of his life. He was austere with himself; drank gin when he was alone, to mortify a taste for vintages; and though he enjoyed the theatre, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years – not since his dearest Sybil had turned her infatuated eye away from him, and onto the undead husk of the cussed Dorian Gray instead. But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove.

The other was a small, slight-built personage, with a nervous, intelligently-represented face, and bright eyes peering out from under eyebrows which he was incessantly twitching. He was just now manifesting unmistakable signs of impatience, nervously pacing up and down, and unable to stand still for a moment; as if, like Lord Albatross, he were caught short too far from the privy.

He was not easy to describe. There was something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. The consul never saw a man he so disliked, and yet he scarce knew why. ‘He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn’t specify the point. He’s an extraordinary-looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way. No, sir; I can make no hand of it; I can’t describe him,’ he thought.

This was Filch, one of the detectives who had been dispatched from England in search of the bank robber; it was his task to narrowly watch every passenger who arrived at Suez, and to follow up all who seemed to be suspicious characters, or bore a resemblance to the description of the criminal, which he had received two days before from the police headquarters at London. The detective was evidently inspired by the hope of obtaining the splendid reward which would be the prize of success, not to mention the Employee of the Month plaque which would adorn the wall above his desk; and awaited with a feverish impatience, easy to understand, the arrival of the steamer Mongolian Falcon.

Here and there, the road began to be rough, and the walking grew so difficult that the detective often stumbled over the yellow bricks, which were here very uneven. Sometimes, indeed, they were broken or missing altogether, leaving holes that natives jumped across and the consul walked around. As for the detective Filch, having no brains, he walked straight ahead, and so stepped into the holes and fell at full length on the hard bricks. It never hurt him, however, and the consul would pick him up and set him upon his feet again, while he joined him in laughing merrily at his own mishap.

Presently they sat down by the dockside, near a little boat, and the consul opened his basket and got out some bread. He offered a piece to the detective, but he refused.

“I am never hungry,” he said, “and it is a lucky thing I am not, for my mouth is only painted on, and if I should cut a hole in it so I could eat, the straw I am stuffed with would come out, and that would spoil the shape of my head.”

The consul saw at once that this was true, so he only nodded and went on eating.

“Tell me something about yourself and the country you came from,” said the consul, when he had finished his dinner. So Filch told him all about London, and how gray everything was there, and how the cyclone carried him here to the queer land of Suez.

The consul listened carefully, and said, “I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place you call London.”

“That is because we have no brains,” answered the detective. “No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of lesser flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home.”

The consul sighed.

“Of course I cannot understand it. If your heads were all stuffed with straw, like yours is, you would probably all live in the beautiful places, and then London would have no people at all. It is fortunate for places like Suez that you have no brains.”

“So you say, consul,” asked Filch for the twentieth time, “that this steamer is never behind time?”

“No, Mr. Filch,” replied the consul. “She was bespoken yesterday at Port Said, and the rest of the way is of no account to such a craft. I repeat that the Mongolian Falcon has been in advance of the time required by the company’s regulations, and gained the prize awarded for excess of speed. She is no piece of junk, I can tell you.”

“Does she come directly from Brindisi?”

“Directly from Brindisi; she takes on the Indian mails there, and she left there Saturday at five p.m. Have patience, Mr. Filch; she will not be late. But really, I don’t see how, from the description you have, you will be able to recognise your man, even if he is on board the Mongolian Falcon.”

“A man rather feels the presence of these fellows, consul, than recognises them. You must have a scent for them, and a scent is like a sixth sense which combines hearing, seeing, smelling, and nonsense. I’ve arrested more than one of these gentlemen in my time, and, if my thief is on board, I’ll answer for it; he’ll not slip through my fingers.”

“I hope so, Mr. Filch, for it was a heavy robbery.”

“A magnificent robbery, consul; fifty-five thousand pounds! We don’t often have such windfalls. Burglars are getting to be so contemptible nowadays! A fellow gets hung for a handful of shillings!”

“Mr. Filch,” said the consul, “I like your way of talking, and hope you’ll succeed; but I fear you will find it far from easy. Don’t you see, the description which you have there has a singular resemblance to an honest man?”

“Consul,” remarked the detective, dogmatically, “great robbers always resemble honest folks. Fellows who have rascally faces have only one course to take, and that is to remain honest; otherwise they would be arrested off-hand. The artistic thing is, to unmask honest countenances; it’s no light task, I admit, but a real art.”

Mr. Filch evidently was not wanting in a tinge of self-conceit.

Little by little the scene on the quay became more animated; sailors of various nations, merchants, ship-brokers, porters, fellahs, ticket-touts and minicab drivers bustled to and fro, as if the steamer were immediately expected. The weather was clear, and slightly chilly. The minarets of the town loomed above the houses in the pale rays of the sun. A jetty pier, some two thousand yards along, extended into the roadstead. A number of fishing-smacks and coasting boats, some retaining the fantastic fashion of ancient galleys, were discernible on the Red Sea.

As he passed among the busy crowd, Filch, according to habit, scrutinised the passers-by with a keen, rapid glance.

It was now half-past ten.

“The steamer doesn’t come!” he exclaimed, as the port clock struck.

“She can’t be far off now,” returned his companion.

“How long will she stop at Suez?”

“Four hours; long enough to get in her coal. It is thirteen hundred and ten miles from Suez to Aden, at the other end of the Red Sea, and she has to take in a fresh coal supply.”

“And does she go from Suez directly to Bombay?”

“Without putting in anywhere.”

“Good!” said Filch. “If the robber is on board he will no doubt get off at Suez, so as to reach the Dutch or French colonies in Asia by some other route. He ought to know that he would not be safe an hour in India, which is English soil.”

“Unless,” objected the consul, “he is exceptionally shrewd. An English criminal, you know, is always better concealed in London than anywhere else.”

“You take care of the passports and the visas,” said Filch. “Let me deal with the miscreants.”

This observation, nonetheless, had furnished the detective food for thought, and meanwhile the consul went away to his office. Filch, left alone, was more impatient than ever, having a presentiment that the robber was on board the Mongolian Falcon. If he had indeed left London intending to reach the New World, he would naturally take the route via India, which was less watched and more difficult to watch than that of the Atlantic.

But Filch’s reflections were soon interrupted by a succession of sharp whistles, which announced the arrival of the Mongolian Falcon. The porters and fellahs rushed down the quay, and a dozen boats pushed off from the shore to go and meet the steamer. Soon her gigantic hull appeared passing along between the banks, and eleven o’clock struck as she anchored in the road. She brought an unusual number of passengers, some of whom remained on deck to scan the picturesque panorama of the town, while the greater part disembarked in the boats, and landed on the quay.

Filch took up a position, and carefully examined each face and figure which made its appearance.

Presently one of the passengers, after vigorously pushing his way through the importunate crowd of porters, came up to him and politely asked if he could point out the English consulate, at the same time showing a passport which he wished to have visaed. Filch instinctively took the passport, and with a rapid glance read the description of its bearer.

An involuntary motion of surprise nearly escaped him, for the description in the passport was identical with that of the bank robber which he had received from Scotland Yard.

“Is this your passport?” asked he, looking the French poodle up and down.

“No, it’s my master’s.”

“And your master is…?”

“He stayed on board.”

“But he must go to the consul’s in person, so as to establish his identity.”

“Oh, is that necessary? My master is rather inextricably tied up at the moment.”

“Quite indispensable.”

“And where is the consulate?”

“There, on the corner of the square,” said Filch, pointing to a house two hundred steps off.

It seemed scarcely a house. There was no other door, and nobody went in or out of that one, but once in a great while the gentleman consul of today’s adventure. There were three windows looking on the court on the first floor; none below; the windows were always shut but they were clean. And then there was a chimney which was generally smoking; so somebody must live there. And yet it was not so sure; for the buildings were so packed together about that court, that it was hard to say where one ended and another began.

“I’ll go and fetch my master, who won’t be much pleased, however, to be disturbed.”

The passenger bowed to Filch, took out a lockpick and a crowbar with a sigh, and returned to the steamer.

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.”

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

Chapter III:

In which a Conversation Takes Place which Seems Likely to Cost Philanderous Flogg Dear…

Philanderous Flogg, having shut the door of his house at half-past eleven, went on his way to the infamous ‘dessert club’. There were several roads nearby, but it did not take him long to find the one paved with yellow bricks. Within a short time he was walking briskly toward the Conform Club, his special orthopedic shoes clinking merrily on the hard, yellow road-bed. The sun shone bright and the birds sang sweetly, and Flogg did not feel nearly so bad as you might think a little gray masochist would who had been suddenly whisked away from his own building foundations, and set down again in the midst of a strange storm.

Having put his right foot before his left five hundred and seventy-five times, and his left foot before his right five hundred and seventy-six times, he reached the Conform Club, an imposing edifice in Pall Mall, which could not have cost less than three million pounds.

He repaired at once to the dining-room, the nine windows of which open upon a tasteful garden, where the trees were already gilded with an autumn colouring; if his new servant Piss-pot-oto had accompanied him there, he would have run over to the trees and begun to bark at the birds sitting there. Philanderous Flogg saw such delicious fruit hanging from the branches that he gathered some of it, finding it just what he wanted to help an appetite for breakfast; and then took his place at the habitual table, the cover of which had already been laid for him.

His breakfast, or rather brunch, consisted of a side-dish (today, a choice of fruited bread, although on occasion he had been presented with Baked Alaska or banana fritters as an appetiser), a broiled fish with Reading Sauce ice-cream, a scarlet slice of roast beef garnished with marshmallow mushrooms, a rhubarb and gooseberry tart, and a morsel of Cheshire cheesecake, the whole being washed down with several cups of tea, for which the Conform is famous – followed by the even more famous groaning dessert cart, which had to be wheeled in by three strong men, with the Spotted Dick and Jam Roly-Poly being doled out by the shovel.

Philanderous Flogg, a creature of habit, was apparently determined not to fall upon the traditional undead diet of human flesh, blood and brains; but all who witnessed his voraciously insatiable appetite could not help but wonder to themselves, in concern, what it would take to satisfy such a monstrous constitution.

He rose at thirteen minutes to one, and directed his steps towards the large hall, a sumptuous apartment adorned with lavishly-framed paintings of historical figures, caught in compromising positions with various puddings – a private gallery known fondly by the regular members as ‘The Just Desserts Collection’. A flunkey handed him an uncut Times, which he proceeded to cut with a skill which betrayed familiarity with this delicate operation, and worried all who noted it. The perusal of this paper absorbed Philanderous Flogg until a quarter before four, whilst the Standard, his next task, occupied him till the dinner hour.

Dinner passed as breakfast had done; duck pâté and toasted teacakes, then a suckling pig with roasted parsnips in caramel apple sauce, followed by the evening dessert wagon; and Mr. Flogg re-appeared in the reading-room and sat down to the Pall Mall at twenty minutes before six.

Half an hour later several members of the Conform came in and drew up to the fireplace, where a coal fire was steadily burning. They were Mr. Flogg’s usual partners at Grist. Andrew Stiff-Upperlip, an engineer; John Surlyman and Samuel Fellatio, bankers; Thomas Flagellate, a brewer; and Gauthier Ravish, one of the Directors of the Bank of England – all rich and highly respectable personages, even in a club which comprises the princes of English trade and finance.

“Well, Ravish,” said Thomas Flagellate, “what about that robbery?”

“Oh,” replied Stiff-Upperlip, “the Bank will lose the money.”

“On the contrary,” broke in Ravish, “I hope we may put our hands on the robber. Skilful detectives have been sent to all the principal ports of America and the Continent, and he’ll be a clever fellow if he slips through their fingers.”

“But have you got the robber’s description?” asked Stiff-Upperlip.

“In the first place, he is no robber at all,” returned Ravish, positively.

“What! a fellow who makes off with fifty-five thousand pounds, no robber?”

“No.”

“Perhaps he’s a manufacturer, then.”

“The Daily Telegraph says that he is a gentleman.” It was Philanderous Flogg, whose head now emerged from behind his newspapers, who made this remark.

He bowed to his friends, and entered into the conversation. The affair which formed its subject, and which was town talk, had occurred three days before at the Bank of England. A package of banknotes, to the value of fifty-five thousand pounds, had been taken from the principal cashier’s table, that functionary being at the moment engaged in registering the receipt of three shillings and sixpence. Of course, he could not have his eyes everywhere.

Let it be observed that the Bank of England reposes a touching confidence in the honesty of the public. There are neither guards nor gratings to protect its treasures; gold, silver, banknotes are freely exposed, at the mercy of the first comer. A keen observer of English customs relates that, being in one of the rooms of the Bank one day, he had the curiosity to examine a gold ingot weighing some seven or eight pounds. He took it up, scrutinised it, passed it to his neighbour, he to the next man, and so on until the ingot, going from hand to hand, was transferred to the end of a dark entry; nor did it return to its place for half an hour. Meanwhile, the cashier had not so much as raised his head.

But in the present instance things had not gone so smoothly. The package of notes not being found when five o’clock sounded from the ponderous clock in the “drawing office,” the amount was passed to the account of profit and loss. As soon as the robbery was discovered, select detectives hastened off to Liverpool, Glasgow, Le Havre, Suez, Brindisi, New York, and other ports, inspired by the proffered reward of two thousand pounds, and five percent on the sum that might be recovered. Detectives were also charged with narrowly watching those who arrived at or left London by rail, and a judicial examination was at once entered upon.

There were real grounds for supposing, as the Daily Telegraph said, that the thief did not belong to a professional band. On the day of the robbery a ‘well-dressed gentleman’ of polished manners, and with a well-to-do air, had been observed going to and fro in the paying room where the crime was committed. A description of him was easily procured: His head was a small sack stuffed with straw, with eyes, nose, and mouth painted on it to represent a face. An old, pointed blue hat, that had belonged to some Munchling, was perched on his head, and the rest of the figure was a blue suit of clothes, worn and faded, which had also been stuffed with straw. On his feet were some old boots with blue tops, such as every Munchling wore in this country, and the figure was supported by means of a pole stuck up its back. This was sent to the detectives; and some hopeful spirits, of whom Ravish was one, did not despair of his apprehension. The papers and clubs were full of the affair, and everywhere people were discussing the probabilities of a successful pursuit; and the Conform Club was especially agitated, several of its members being Bank officials.

Ravish would not concede that the work of the detectives was likely to be in vain, for he thought that the prize offered would greatly stimulate their zeal and activity. But Stiff-Upperlip was far from sharing this confidence; and, as they placed themselves at the Grist-table, they continued to argue the matter. Stiff-Upperlip and Flagellate played together, while Philanderous Flogg had Fellatio for his partner. As the game proceeded the conversation ceased, excepting between the rubbers, when it revived again.

“I maintain,” said Stiff-Upperlip, “that the chances are in favour of the thief, who must be a shrewd fellow.”

“Well, but where can he fly to?” asked Ravish. “No country is safe for him.”

“Pshaw!”

“Where could he go, then?”

“Oh, I don’t know that. The world is big enough.”

“It was once,” said Philanderous Flogg, in a low tone. “Cut, sir,” he added, handing the cards to Thomas Flagellate.

The discussion fell during the rubber, after which Stiff-Upperlip took up its thread.

“What do you mean by ‘once’? Has the world grown smaller?”

“Certainly,” returned Ravish. “I agree with Mr. Flogg. The world has grown smaller, since a man can now go round it ten times more quickly than a hundred years ago. And that is why the search for this thief will be more likely to succeed.”

“And also why the thief can get away more easily.”

“No, indeed? I don’t know anything. You see, I am stuffed with dinner, so I have no brains for this discussion at all,” Fellatio answered sadly.

“Be so good as to play, Stiffy,” said Philanderous Flogg.

But the incredulous Stiff-Upperlip was not convinced, and when the hand was finished, said eagerly: “You have a strange way, Ravish, of proving that the world has grown smaller. So, because you can go round it in three months…”

“In eighty days,” interrupted Philanderous Flogg.

“That is true, gentlemen,” added John Surlyman. “Only eighty days, now that the section between Rothal and Allahabad, on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, has been opened. Here is the estimate made by the Daily Telegraph:

From London to Suez via Mont Cenis and Brindisi, by rail and steamboats: 7 days

From Suez to Bombay, by steamer: 13 days

From Bombay to Calcutta, by rail: 3 days

From Calcutta to Hong Kong, by steamer: 13 days

From Hong Kong to Yokohama (Japan), by steamer: 6 days

From Yokohama to San Francisco, by steamer: 22 days

From San Francisco to New York, by rail: 7 days

From New York to London, by steamer and rail: 9 days

Total: 80 days.”

“Yes, in eighty days!” exclaimed Stiff-Upperlip, who in his excitement made a false deal. “But that doesn’t take into account bad weather, contrary winds, shipwrecks, railway accidents, zombie attacks, and so on – present company excepted, Mr. Flogg…”

“All included,” returned Philanderous Flogg, continuing to play despite the discussion.

“But suppose the Voodoos or Indians pull up the rails?” replied Stiffy. “Suppose they stop the trains, pillage the luggage-vans, and scalp the passengers?!”

“All included,” calmly retorted Flogg; adding, as he threw down the cards, “Two trumps.”

Stiff-Upperlip, whose turn it was to deal, gathered them up, and went on: “You are right, theoretically, Mr. Flogg, but practically…”

“Practically also, Mr. Stiffy.”

“I’d like to see you do it in eighty days.”

“It depends on you. Shall we go?”

“Heaven preserve me! But I would wager four thousand pounds that such a journey, made under these conditions, is impossible.”

“Quite possible, on the contrary,” returned Mr. Flogg.

“Well, make it, then!”

“The journey round the world in eighty days?”

“Yes.”

“I should like nothing better.”

“When?”

“At once. Only I warn you that I shall do it at your expense.”

“It’s absurd!” cried Stiff-Upperlip, who was beginning to be annoyed at the persistence of his friend. “Come, let’s go on with the game.”

“Deal over again, then,” said Philanderous Flogg. “There’s a false deal.”

Stiff-Upperlip took up the pack with a feverish hand; then suddenly put them down again.

“Well, Mr. Flogg,” said he, “it shall be so: I will wager the four thousand on it.”

“Calm yourself, my dear Stiffy,” said Fellatio. “It’s only a joke.”

“When I say I’ll wager,” returned Stiff-Upperlip, “I mean it.”

“All right,” said Mr. Flogg; and, turning to the others, he continued: “I have a deposit of twenty thousand at Baring’s which I will willingly risk upon it.”

“Twenty thousand pounds!” cried Surlyman. “Twenty thousand pounds, which you would lose by a single accidental delay!”

“The unforeseen does not exist,” quietly replied Philanderous Flogg.

“But, Mr. Flogg, eighty days are only the estimate of the least possible time in which the journey can be made.”

“A well-used minimum suffices for everything.”

“But, in order not to exceed it, you must jump mathematically from the trains upon the steamers, and from the steamers upon the trains again.”

“I will jump – mathematically.”

“You are joking.”

“A true Englishman doesn’t joke when he is talking about so serious a thing as a wager,” replied Philanderous Flogg, solemnly. “I will bet twenty thousand pounds against anyone who wishes that I will make the tour of the world in eighty days or less; in nineteen hundred and twenty hours, or a hundred and fifteen thousand two hundred minutes. Do you accept?”

“We accept,” replied Messrs. Stiff-Upperlip, Fellatio, Surlyman, Flagellate, and Ravish, after consulting each other.

“Good,” said Mr. Flogg. “The train leaves for Dover at a quarter before nine. I will take it.”

“This very evening?” asked Stiff-Upperlip.

“This very evening,” returned Philanderous Flogg. He took out and consulted a pocket almanac, and added, “As today is Wednesday, the 2nd of October, I shall be due in London in this very room of the Conform Club, on Saturday, the 21st of December, at a quarter before nine p.m.; or else the twenty thousand pounds, now deposited in my name at Baring’s, will belong to you, in fact and in right, gentlemen. Here is a cheque for the amount.”

A memorandum of the wager was at once drawn up and signed by the six parties, during which Philanderous Flogg preserved a stoical composure. He certainly did not bet to win, and had only staked the twenty thousand pounds, half of his fortune, because he foresaw that he might have to expend the other half to carry out this difficult, not to say unattainable, project. As for his antagonists, they seemed much agitated; not so much by the value of their stake, as because they had some scruples about betting under conditions so difficult to their friend.

The clock struck seven, and the party offered to suspend the game so that Mr. Flogg might make his preparations for departure.

“I am quite ready now,” was his tranquil response. “I always am. Diamonds are trumps: be so good as to play on, gentlemen.”

Around the World in Eighty Days Yeller Brick Road ~ Chapter Two

Chapter II

In which Pissepotout is Convinced that He Has At Last Found His Ideal

“Faith,” muttered Pissepotout, somewhat flurried in his panting anxiousness. “I’ve seen people at Madame Tussaud’s more lively than my new master!”

Madame Tussaud’s ‘people’ let it be said, are of wax, and are much visited in London; speech is all that is wanting to make them human.

He had been awakened by a shock, so sudden and severe that if Pissepotout had not been lying on the floor, he might have been hurt. As it was, the jar made him catch his breath and wonder what had happened; and he put his cold little nose up to the door and whined dismally. He eventually sat up, and noticed that the house was not moving; nor was it dark, for the bright sunshine came in at the window, flooding the little hallway. He sprang up and opened the door, looking keenly for his new master’s return.

During his brief interview with Mr. Flogg, Pissepotout had been carefully observing him. He appeared to have been a man about forty years of age when alive, with fine, handsome features, and a tall, well-shaped figure; his hair and whiskers were light, his forehead compact and unwrinkled, his face rather pale as befitting the recently deceased, even his teeth magnificent. His countenance possessed in the highest degree what physiognomists call “repose in action,” a quality of those who act rather than talk. Calm and phlegmatic, with at least one clear eye, Mr. Flogg seemed to present a perfect mask of that English composure, which Andrew Lloyd-Webber has so skilfully represented in musicals such as Phantom. Seen in the various phases of his daily life, he gave the idea of being perfectly well-balanced, as exactly regulated as an elderly gentleman’s bladder – no doubt still enacting the very routines that had comforted him as living man. Philanderous Flogg was, indeed, exactitude personified, and this was betrayed even in the expression of his very hands and feet; for in men, as well as in animals, the limbs themselves are expressive of the congealed – er, concealed – passions.

He was so exact that he was never in a hurry, was always ready, and was economical alike of his steps and his motions. He never took one step too many, and always went to his destination by the shortest cut; he made no superfluous gestures, and was never seen to be moved or agitated. He was the most deliberate, unimaginative person in the world, yet always reached his destination at the exact moment, so as not to miss anything.

He lived alone, and, so to speak, outside of every social relation; and as he knew that in this world, account must be taken of friction, and that friction retards the sensibilities of even the most vibrantly alive, therefore he never rubbed against anybody.

Truly, no man but he in polite society had been spoken and speculated about by so many, for such an extent of time, and in such detail, while ensuring the art of gossip to have so little to discuss, to appear so vacuous, and to lead so empty and dead a life for so long. The proudest and most promising débutantes had died of boredom, or turned to a life of Christ, awaiting to hear something inspiring about him, or to learn of any spark of vitality behind those cold, calculating, clock-watching eyes.

As for Pissepotout, he was a true Parisian of Paris. Since he had abandoned his own country for England, taking service as a valet, he had in vain searched for a master after his own heart. Pissepotout was by no means one of those pet dunces depicted by Moliere with a bold gaze, a shiny coat, and a wet nose held high in the air; he was an honest fellow, with a pleasant face, lips a trifle protruding, soft-mannered and serviceable, with a good round head, such as one likes to see on the shoulders of man’s best friend. His eyes were blue, his complexion rubicund, his figure almost portly and well-built, his body muscular, and his physical powers fully developed by the exercises of his younger days. His fur was somewhat tumbled; for, while the ancient sculptors are said to have known eighteen methods of arranging Minerva’s tresses, Pissepotout was familiar with but one of dressing his own: three strokes of a large-toothed comb and a delightful roll upon the doormat completed his toilet.

It would be rash to predict how Pissepotout’s lively nature would agree with Mr. Flogg. It was impossible to tell whether the new servant would turn out as absolutely methodical as his undead master required; experience alone could solve the question. Why did he favour dogs as companions, when loyal hunchbacked misfits named ‘Igor’ were so much better suited to the coffin-dodgers of the upper-class? Pissepotout had been a sort of vagrant himself in his early years, and now yearned for repose; but so far he had failed to find it, though he had already served in ten English houses, and had ten different silver-plated engraved name-discs to prove it. But he could not take root in any of these; with chagrin, he found his masters invariably whimsical and irregular, constantly running about the countryside shouting at him ‘Fenton!’ or ‘Benton!’ and even ‘Jesus Christ!’ and on the look-out for misadventure. His last master, young Lord Longferry, Member of Parliament, after passing his nights in the Haymarket taverns, was too often brought home in the morning on policemen’s shoulders. Pissepotout, desirous of respecting the gentleman whom he served, ventured a mild remonstrance on such conduct, by relieving himself in the inebriated Lord’s slippers; which, being ill-received, he took his leave. Hearing that Mr. Philanderous Flogg was looking for a servant, and that his life was one of unbroken regularity, that he neither travelled nor stayed from home overnight, he felt sure that this would be the place he was after. He presented himself, and was accepted, as has been seen.

At half-past eleven, then, Pissepotout found himself alone in the house in Saddle Row. He began a storm-damage inspection without delay, scouring it from cellar to garret. So clean, well-arranged, solemn a mansion pleased him; it seemed to him like a snail’s shell, lighted and warmed by gas, which sufficed for both these purposes. When Pissepotout reached the second storey he recognised at once the room which he was to inhabit, and he was well satisfied with it. Electric bells and speaking-tubes afforded communication with the lower storeys; while on the mantel stood an electric clock, precisely like that in Mr. Flogg’s bedchamber, both beating the same second at the same instant.

“That’s good, that’ll do,” said Pissepotout to himself.

He suddenly observed, hung over the clock, a card which, upon inspection, proved to be a programme of the daily routine of the house. It comprised all that was required of the servant, from eight in the morning, exactly at which hour Philanderous Flogg rose, till half-past eleven, when he left the house for the Conform Club – all the details of service; the whipping and birching to thoroughly rouse at eight promptly, tea and toast and calamine lotion at twenty-three minutes past eight, the removal of the manacles and inflatable rubber corset at twelve minutes before nine, the removal of all overnight metal braces, clamps and piercings at ten minutes after nine, the shaving-water at thirty-seven minutes past nine, then the crowbar to open the nocturnal chastity belts and assistance at the toilet at twenty minutes before ten. Everything was regulated and foreseen that was to be done from half-past eleven a.m. till midnight, the hour at which the methodical gentleman retired, whereupon the morning’s instructions were repeated, mostly in reverse.

Mr. Flogg’s wardrobe was amply supplied and in the best taste. Each pair of trousers, coat, and vest bore a number, indicating the time of year and season at which they were in turn to be laid out for wearing; and the same system was applied to the master’s shoes. In short, the house in Saddle Row, which must have been a very temple of disorder and unrest under the illustrious but dissipated Shergar, was cosiness, comfort, and method idealised. There was no study, nor were there books, which would have been quite useless to the brain-dead Mr. Flogg; for at the Conform two libraries, one of general literature and the other of law and politics, were at his service. A moderate-sized safe stood in his bedroom, constructed so as to defy fire as well as burglars; but Pissepotout found neither arms nor hunting weapons anywhere, not even an axe; everything betrayed the most tranquil and peaceable attitude towards the general public.

But upon opening the under-stairs cupboard, he had another reason to be startled, after that morning’s tornado. For peeking out at him, was a group of the queerest people he had ever seen. They were not as big as the grown folk he had always been used to, and certainly nowhere near as big as Mr. Flogg; but neither were they very small. In fact, they seemed about as tall as Pissepotout, who was a well-grown dog for his age, although they were, so far as looks go, many years older.

Three were men and one a woman, and all were oddly dressed. They wore round hats that rose to a small point a foot above their heads, with little bells around the brims that tinkled sweetly as they moved. The hats of the men were blue; the little woman’s hat was white, and she wore a white gown that hung in pleats from her shoulders. Over it were sprinkled little stars that glistened like diamonds. The men were dressed in blue, of the same shade as their hats, and wore well-polished boots with a deep roll of blue at the tops. The men, Pissepotout thought, were about as old as Big Ben, for two of them had beards. But the little woman was doubtless much older. Her face was covered with wrinkles, her hair was nearly white, and she walked rather stiffly.

When these people drew near to where Pissepotout was standing in the doorway, they paused and whispered among themselves, as if afraid to come out farther into the hall. But the little old woman walked up to him, made a low bow and said, in a sweet voice:

“You are welcome, most noble Sorcerer, to the house of the Munchlings. We are so grateful to you for having killed the wicked James of Forster, and for setting our people free from bondage.”

Pissepotout listened to this speech with wonder. What could the little woman possibly mean by calling him a sorcerer, and saying he had killed James Forster? Pissepotout was an innocent, hardworking little poodle, who had been carried by circumstance many miles from home; and he had never killed anything in all his life.

But the little woman evidently expected him to answer; so he said, with hesitation, “You are very kind, but there must be some mistake. I have not killed anything.”

“The house did, anyway,” replied the little old woman, with a rather hysterical laugh. “And that is the same thing. See!” she continued, pointing out of the front door, to the corner of the house. “There are his two feet, still sticking out from under a block of wood.”

Pissepotout looked, and gave a little cry of fright. There, indeed, just under the corner of the great foundation beam the house rested on, where the external cellar door had been torn away in the storm, two feet were sticking out, shod in silver-buckled shoes with pointed toes.

“Oh, dear! Oh, dear!” cried Pissepotout, clasping his hands together in dismay. “He must have tripped and fallen under the house into the cellar, after our great upheaval earlier. Whatever shall we do?”

“There is nothing to be done,” said the little woman calmly.

“But who was he?” asked Pissepotout.

“He was the wicked James of Forster, as I said,” answered the little woman. “He has held all the Munchlings in bondage for many years while servicing the Great and Terrible Flogg, making them slave for him night and day. Now they are all set free, and are grateful to you for the favour.”

“Who are the Munchlings?” inquired Pissepotout.

“They are the people who live in this house of the Beast, where the wicked James ruled.”

“Are you a Munchling?” asked Pissepotout.

“No, but I am their friend, although I live in the house over to the North. When they saw the wicked Forster was dead the Munchlings sent a swift messenger to me via the plumbing, and I came at once. I am the Bitch of the North House.”

“Oh, my gracious me!” cried Pissepotout. Females of his species rarely crossed his path. “Are you a real bitch?”

“Yes, indeed,” answered the little woman, unconvincingly to the French poodle’s questing nose. “But I am a good bitch, and the people love me. I am not as powerful as the wicked bitch James was who ruled here, or I should have set the people free myself.”

“But I thought all bitches were neutered,” said the dog, who was half frightened at facing a real bitch. He had never prepared for the eventuality – having focused all of his efforts on finding the perfect master instead.

“Oh, no, that is a great mistake. There were only four true bitches in all of London, and two of them, those who live in the North and the South, are good bitches. I know this is true, for I am one of them myself, and cannot be mistaken. Those who dwelt in the East End and the West Central were, indeed, wicked bitches; but now that you have killed one of them, there is but one wicked bitch in all of London.”

“But,” said Pissepotout, after a moment’s thought, “Aunt Em has told me that the bitches were all dead – years and years ago.”

“Who is Aunt Em?” inquired the little old woman.

“She is my aunt who lives in Cannes, where I came from.”

The Bitch of the North House seemed to think for a time, with her head bowed and her eyes upon the ground. Then she looked up and said, “I do not know where Cannes is, for I have never heard that country mentioned before. But tell me, is it a civilized country?”

“Oh, yes,” replied Pissepotout.

“Then that accounts for it. In the civilized countries I believe there are no bitches left, no wickedness, nor submissives, nor masochists. But, you see, London has never been civilized, for we are cut off from all the rest of the world. Therefore we still have bitches and wicked people amongst us.”

“Who are the wicked ones?” asked Pissepotout.

“Flogg himself is the most wicked,” answered the Bitch, sinking her voice to a whisper. “He is more powerful than all the rest of us together. He is from the city of Emmannuelle.”

Pissepotout was going to ask another question, but just then the Munchlings, who had been standing silently by, gave a loud shout and pointed to the corner of the house where the wicked James Forster had been lying.

“What is it?” asked the little old woman, and looked, and began to laugh in her strange hysterical tone. The feet of the dead bitch James had disappeared entirely, and nothing was left but the silver-buckled shoes.

“He was so old-school,” explained the Bitch of the North, “that he dried up quickly in the sun. That is the end of him. But the silver-buckled shoes are yours, and you shall have them to wear.” She reached down and picked up the shoes, and after shaking the dust out of them, handed them to Pissepotout.

“The Bitch of the Beast was proud of those silver-buckled shoes,” said one of the Munchlings, “and there is some powerful charm connected with them; but what it is we never knew.”

Pissepotout quickly carried the shoes into the house and placed them on the table. Then he turned again to the Munchlings under the stairs and said:

“I am anxious to get back my master, for I am sure I will worry without him. Can you help me find him?”

The Munchlings and the Bitch first looked at one another, and then at Pissepotout, and then shook their heads.

“At the second home of the Beast, not far from here,” said one, “there is a great dessert club, the Conform; and none who is not a member could live to cross its threshhold.”

“It is the same at the South,” said another, “for I have been there and seen it. The South is the country of the Quadrilles. No-one enters or leaves there, without being challenged to the Danse Macabre.”

“I am told,” said the third man, “that it is the same at the Westminster. And that country is ruled by the wicked Bitch of the West, who would make you her slave if you passed her way.”

“The North is my home,” said the old lady, “and at its edge is the same great dessert club that obsesses this mind of Flogg. I’m afraid, my dear, you will have to stay in and wait with us.”

The three Munchlings bowed low to him and wished him a pleasant term in servitude, after which they walked away back down the cellar stairs. The Bitch gave Pissepotout a friendly little nod, whirled around on her left heel three times, and straight away disappeared, much to the surprise of the little poodle, who barked after her loudly enough when she had gone, because he had been afraid even to growl while she stood by.

But gradually Pissepotout, knowing her to be a bitch, found he had expected her to disappear in just that way, and presently was not surprised in the least.

Having scrutinised the house from top to bottom, he rubbed his hands, a broad smile overspread his features, and he said joyfully, “This is just what I wanted! Ah, we shall get on together, Mr. Flogg and I! What a domestic and regular gentleman! A real machine, almost as if constructed of tin; well, I don’t mind servicing a machine. All machines require a good kicking and beating once in a while to perform at their best.”

Around the World in Eighty Days Yeller Brick Road ~ Chapter One

Chapter I:

In which Philanderous Flogg and Pissepotout Accept Each Other,
the One as Master, the Other as Dog…

Mr. Philanderous Flogg lived, in 1872, at No.7, Saddle Row, Burlyman Gardens, the house in which Shergar died in 1984. When he stood in the doorway and looked around, he could see nothing but the great gray streets on every side. Not a tree nor a shrub broke the broad sweep of the city that reached to the edge of the sky in all directions. The summer sun had baked the road into a gray mass, with little cracks running through it. Even the grass in Hyde Park was not green, for the sun had burned the tops of the long blades until they were the same gray colour to be seen everywhere. Once the house on Saddle Row had been painted, but the sun blistered the paint and the rains washed it away, and now the house was as dull and gray as everything else.

He was one of the most noticeable members of the Conform Club, though he seemed always to avoid attracting attention; an enigmatic personage, about whom little was known, except that he was a self-polished man of the world. People said that he resembled Byron – at least that his head was Byronic; but the fantasy circulated that he was a tranquil Byron, who might live on a thousand years without growing old, rather like the equally charismatic and undead Dorian Gray himself.

Certainly an Englishman, it was more doubtful whether Philanderous Flogg was an indigenous Londoner. He was never seen on Change, nor at the Bank, nor in the counting-rooms of the “City”; no ships ever came into London docks of which he was the owner; he had no public employment; he had never been entered at any of the Inns of Court, either at the Temple, or Lincoln’s Inn, or Gray’s Inn; nor had his voice ever resounded in the Court of Chancery, or in the Exchequer, or the Queen’s Bench, or the Ecclesiastical Courts. He certainly was not a manufacturer; nor was he a merchant or a gentleman farmer. His name was strange to the scientific and learned societies, and he never was known to take part in the sage deliberations of the Royal Institution or the London Institution, the Artisan’s Association, or the Institution of Arts and Sciences. Nor was he known at the Jam-Maker’s and Chutneys Guild, nor by the Knights of Origami, nor the Remedial Potato-Printer’s Press. He belonged, in fact, to none of the numerous societies which swarm in the English capital, from the Harmonic to that of the Entomologists, founded mainly for the purpose of abolishing pernicious insects. And even if mentioned to the Seamstresses, they insisted that his wardrobe alterations were not known to them either.

Philanderous Flogg was a member of the Conform, and that was all.

The way in which he got admission to this exclusive club was simple enough.

He was recommended by the Barings, with whom he had an open credit. His cheques were regularly paid at sight from his account current, which was always flush.

Was Philanderous Flogg rich? Undoubtedly. But those who knew him best could not imagine how he had made his fortune, and Mr. Flogg was the last person to whom to apply for the information. He was not lavish, nor, on the contrary, avaricious; for, whenever he knew that money was needed for a noble, useful, or benevolent purpose, he supplied it quietly and sometimes anonymously. He was, in short, the least communicative of men. He talked very little, and seemed all the more mysterious for his taciturn manner. His daily habits were quite open to observation; but whatever he did was so exactly the same thing that he had always done before, that the wits of the curious were fairly puzzled.

Had he travelled? It was likely, for no one seemed to know the world more familiarly; there was no spot so secluded that he did not appear to have an intimate acquaintance with it. He often corrected, with a few clear words, the thousand conjectures advanced by members of the club as to lost and unheard-of travellers, pointing out the true probabilities, and seeming as if gifted with a sort of second sight, so often did events justify his predictions. He must have travelled everywhere, at least in the spirit.

It was at least certain that Philanderous Flogg had not absented himself from London for many years. Those who were honoured by a better acquaintance with him than the rest, declared that nobody could pretend to have ever seen him anywhere else. His sole pastimes were reading the papers and playing Grist. He often won at this game, which, as a silent one, harmonised with his nature; but his winnings never went into his purse, being reserved as a fund for his charities. Mr. Flogg played, not to win, but for the sake of playing. The game was in his eyes a contest, a struggle with a difficulty, yet a motionless, unwearying struggle, congenial to his tastes.

Was he married? No. But he had not the sallow complexion of a deprived man. More the twinkle in his eye of a depraved one. And the infrequent, unexplained bruise upon the throat, kept mostly hidden by a white silk cravat; or a candle-wax scald upon the palms, necessitating a pair of fine kid gloves. Occasionally, a carpet-burn on the head, curtained modestly by his Bohemian forelock.

Philanderous Flogg was not known to ever have had either wife or children, which may happen to the most honest people; neither relatives or near friends, which is certainly more unusual. He lived alone in his house in Saddle Row, whither none penetrated. A single, overworked, quite exhausted domestic sufficed to serve his particular needs. He breakfasted and dined at the club, at hours mathematically fixed, in the same room, at the same table, never taking his meals with other members, much less bringing a guest with him; and went home at exactly midnight, only to retire at once to bed. He never used the cosy chambers which the Conform provides for its favoured members, stating them to be too extravagantly equipped for his own sleeping arrangements. He passed ten hours out of the twenty-four in Saddle Row, either in sleeping, musing, flagellation, or making his toilet. When he chose to take a walk it was with a regular step in the entrance hall with its mosaic flooring, or in the circular gallery with its dome supported by twenty red porphyry Ionic columns, and illumined by blue painted windows. When he breakfasted or dined all the resources of the club – its kitchens and pantries, its buttery and dairy – aided to crowd his table with their most succulent stores; he was served by the gravest waiters, in dress coats, and shoes with swan-skin soles, who proffered the viands in special porcelain, and on the finest linen; club decanters, of a lost mould, contained his sherry, his port, and his cinnamon-spiced claret; while his beverages were refreshingly cooled with ice, brought at great cost from the American lakes.

If to live in this style is to be eccentric, it must be confessed that there is something good in eccentricity.

The mansion in Saddle Row, though not sumptuous, was exceedingly comfortable. The habits of its occupant were such as to demand little and often from the sole domestic, but Philanderous Flogg required him to be almost superhumanly prompt and regular. On this very 2nd of October he had dismissed James Forster, because that luckless lurcher had brought him shaving-water at eighty-four degrees Fahrenheit instead of eighty-six; and he was awaiting his successor, who was due at the house between eleven and half-past.

Philanderous Flogg was seated squarely in his armchair and looked anxiously at the sky through the windows, which was even grayer than usual; his feet close together like those of a grenadier on parade, his hands resting on his knees, his body straight, his head erect; he was steadily watching a complicated clock which indicated the hours, the minutes, the seconds, the days, the months, and the years. At exactly half-past eleven Mr. Flogg would, according to his daily habit, quit Saddle Row, and repair to the Conform.

A rap at this moment sounded on the door of the cosy apartment where Philanderous Flogg was seated, and James Forster, the dismissed pet, appeared.

“The new servant,” said he.

A young pedigree advanced and bowed.

“You are a French poodle, I believe,” asked Philanderous Flogg, “and your name is John?”

“Jean, if monsieur pleases,” replied the newcomer, “And I am indeed a French poodle; Jean Pissepotout, a surname which has clung to me because I have a natural aptness for going out to do one business into another. I believe I’m honest, monsieur, but, to be outspoken, I’ve had several trades. I’ve been an itinerant singer, a circus-mutt, when I used to vault like Leotard, and dance on a rope like Blondin. Then I got to be a professor of gymnastics, so as to make better use of my talents; and then I was an errant fire-dog in Paris, and arrested at many a big fire. But I quit France five years ago, and, wishing to taste the sweets of domestic life, took service as a valet here in England. Finding myself out of place, and hearing that Monsieur Philanderous Flogg was the most exact and settled gentleman in the United Kingdom, I have come to monsieur in the hope of living with him a tranquil life, and forgetting even the name of Pissepotout.”

“Piss-pot-oto suits me,” responded Mr. Flogg, with terribly patronising pronunciation. “Although somewhat long, to shout out in Hyde Park during afternoon walkies. I may shorten it to Toto, or Brian. You are well recommended to me; I hear a good report of you. You know my conditions, my little yellow friend?”

“Yes, monsieur.”

“Good! What time is it?”

“Twenty-two minutes after eleven,” returned Pissepotout, drawing an enormous silver watch from the depths of his pocket.

“You are too slow,” said Mr. Flogg.

“Pardon me, monsieur, it is impossible…”

“You are four minutes too slow. No matter; it’s enough to mention the error. Now from this moment, twenty-nine minutes after eleven a.m, this Wednesday, 2nd October, you are in my service.”

From the far north they heard a low wail of the wind, and Philanderous Flogg and Pissepotout could see from the windows where the passers-by bowed almost double before the coming storm. There now came a sharp whistling in the air from the south, and as they turned their eyes that way they saw dust-devils coming from that direction also.

Then a strange thing happened.

The house whirled around two or three times and rose slowly through the air. Pissepotout felt as if he were going up in a balloon.

The north and south winds met where the house stood, and made it the exact centre of the cyclone. In the middle of a cyclone the air is generally still, but the great pressure of the wind on every side of the house raised it up higher and higher, until it was at the very top of the cyclone; and there it remained and was carried miles and miles upwards, as easily as you could carry a feather.

It was very dark, and the wind howled horribly around them, but they found they were riding quite easily. After the first few whirls around, and one other time when the house tipped badly, it felt as if they were being rocked gently, like a baby in a cradle.

Pissepotout did not like it. He ran about the room, now here, now there, barking loudly; but Philanderous Flogg sat quite still on the chair and waited to see what would happen.

After what seemed like hour after hour passed away, and slowly the ashamed Pissepotout got over his fright; but the wind shrieked so loudly all about him that he nearly became deaf. At first he had wondered if he would be dashed to pieces when the house fell again; but as the time passed and nothing terrible happened, he stopped worrying and resolved to wait calmly and see what the future would bring.

Eventually, with a jolt, No.7 Saddle Row came to earth once more, slightly concussing the mailman, who had been awaiting patiently and a little bemusedly at the top step, with that day’s post.

Philanderous Flogg got up, took his hat in his left hand, put it on his head with an automatic motion, and went off without a word.

Pissepotout heard the street door shut once; it was his new master going out. He heard it shut again; it was his predecessor, James Forster, departing in his turn. Pissepotout remained alone in the house in Saddle Row, awaiting his master’s anticipated return in the hallway, ears pricked.