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

Chapter XX

In Which Filch Comes Face to Face With Philanderous Flogg

While these events were passing at the opium-house, Mr. Flogg, unconscious of the danger he was in of losing the steamer, was quietly escorting Aorta about the streets of the English quarter, making the necessary purchases for the long voyage before them. It was all very well for an Englishman like Mr. Flogg to make the tour of the world with a carpet-bag; but a lady could not be expected to travel comfortably under such conditions. He acquitted his task with characteristic serenity, and invariably replied to the remonstrances of his fair companion, who was confused by his patience and generosity:

“It is in the interest of my journey – a part of my programme.”

She tried to be calm, and leave things to take their course, and tried to dwell much on this argument of rational dependence.

“Surely, if there be constant attachment on each side, our hearts must understand each other ere long. We are not boy and girl, to be captiously irritable, misled by every moment’s inadvertence, and wantonly playing with our own happiness,” she thought to herself.

And yet, a few minutes afterwards, she felt as if their being in company with each other, under their present circumstances, could only be exposing them to inadvertencies and misconstructions of the most mischievous kind.

The purchases made, they returned to the hotel, where they dined at a sumptuously served table-d’hote; after which Aorta, shaking hands with her protector after the English fashion, retired to her room for rest. After stopping in his own room, finding his French servant still absent and unavailable to remove his corsets and restraints for the evening, Flogg took himself to the bar, with the intention of relaxing instead with a sherry.

But he felt himself suddenly seized from behind, and before he had time to defend himself, he was thrust back against the wall, with a brutal hand round his throat.

He struggled madly for life, and by a terrible effort wrenched the tightening fingers away. In a second he heard the click of a revolver, and saw the gleam of a polished barrel, pointing straight at his head, and the dusky form of a short, thick-set man facing him.

“What do you want?” he gasped.

“Keep quiet,” said the man. “If you stir, I shoot you.”

“You are mad. What have I done to you?”

“You wrecked the life of Sibyl Vane,” was the answer, “and Sibyl Vane was my sister. She killed herself. I know it. Her death is at your door. I swore I would kill you in return. For years I have sought you. I had no clue, no trace. The two people who could have described you were dead. I knew nothing of you but the pet name she used to call you. I heard it tonight by chance. Make your peace with God, for tonight you are going to die.”

Philanderous Flogg grew sick with fear. “I never knew her,” he stammered. “I never heard of her. You are mad.”

“You had better confess your sin, for as sure as I am James Vane Forster, you are going to die.” There was a horrible moment. Flogg did not know what to say or do. His prior valet, James Forster – alive! And hunting his sister’s abuser like a dog! “Down on your knees!” growled the ex-servant. “I give you one minute to make your peace – no more. I go on board tonight for India, and I must do my job first. One minute. That’s all.”

Flogg’s arms fell to his sides. Paralysed with terror, he did not know what to do. If only Piss-pot-toto was here! Suddenly a wild hope flashed across his brain. “Stop,” he cried. “How long ago is it since your sister died? Quick, tell me!”

“Eighteen years,” said the man. “Why do you ask me? What do years matter?”

“Eighteen years,” laughed Philanderous Flogg, with a touch of triumph in his voice. “Eighteen years! Set me under the lamp and look at my face!”

James Forster hesitated for a moment, not understanding what was meant. Then he seized Flogg and dragged him from the archway.

Dim and wavering as was the hotel bar’s light, yet it served to show him the hideous error, as it seemed, into which he had fallen, for the face of the man he had sought to kill had all the bloom of boyhood through the ornate gimp-mask, all the unstained purity of youth in its undead countenance. He seemed little more than a lad of twenty summers, hardly older, if older indeed at all, than his sister had been when they had parted so many years ago. It was obvious that this was not the French poodle who had destroyed her life.

He loosened his hold and reeled back. “My God! My God!” he cried. “You are not the lap-dog scum I thought you to be! You remind me of my former Master in London… a gentleman too, indeed… and I would have murdered you!”

Philanderous Flogg drew a long breath. “You have been on the brink of committing a terrible crime, my man,” he said, looking at him sternly. “Let this be a warning to you not to take vengeance into your own hands.”

“Forgive me, sir,” muttered James Vane Forster. “I was deceived. A chance word I heard in that damned opium den set me on the wrong track.”

“You had better go home and put that pistol away, or you may get into trouble,” said Flogg, turning on his heel and continuing slowly down the corridor.

At the bar, as I entered, I looked about me with so black a countenance as made the attendants tremble; not a look did they exchange in my presence; but obsequiously took my orders, led me to a private room, and brought me wherewithal to write. A zombie in danger of his life was a creature new to me; shaken with inordinate anger, strung to the pitch of murder, lusting to inflict pain. Yet the creature was astute; mastered his fury with a great effort of the will; composed his two important letters of progress, one to Flagellate and one to Ravish; and that he might receive actual evidence of their being posted, sent them out with directions that they should be registered…”

Mr. Flogg then absorbed himself until evening in the perusal of The Times and Illustrated London News.

Thenceforward, he sat all twilight over the fire in the private room, gnawing his nails; there he dined again, sitting alone with his fears and a roasted wild boar with candied melon, the waiter visibly quailing before his eye at his insatiable appetite; and thence, when the night was fully come, he set forth in the corner of a closed cab, and was driven to and fro about the streets of the city. That child of Hell had nothing human; nothing lived in him but fear and hatred. And when at last, thinking the driver had begun to grow suspicious, he discharged the cab and ventured on foot attired in his misfitting clothes and restraints, an object marked out for observation, into the midst of the nocturnal passengers, these two base passions raged within him like a tempest. He walked fast, hunted by his fears, chattering to himself, skulking through the less-frequented thoroughfares, counting the minutes that still divided him from midnight. Once a woman spoke to him, offering a box of lights. He smote her in the face, and she fled.

Had he been capable of being astonished at anything, it would have been not to see his servant return to the hotel at bedtime. But, knowing that the steamer was not to leave for Yokohama until the next morning, he did not disturb himself about the matter, and instead slept off his exertions.

When Pissepotout did not appear the next morning to answer his master’s bell, Mr. Flogg, not betraying the least vexation, contented himself with taking his carpet-bag, calling Aorta, and sending for a palanquin.

It was then eight o’clock; at half-past nine, it being then high tide, the Carnatic would leave the harbour. Mr. Flogg and Aorta got into the palanquin, their luggage being brought after on a wheelbarrow, and half an hour later stepped upon the quay whence they were to embark. Mr. Flogg then learned that the Carnatic had sailed the evening before. He had expected to find not only the steamer, but his domestic, and was forced to give up both; but no sign of disappointment appeared on his face, and he merely remarked to Aorta, “It is an accident, madam; nothing more.”

At this moment a man who had been observing him attentively approached. It was Filch, who, bowing, addressed Mr. Flogg: “Were you not, like me, sir, a passenger by the Rangoon, which arrived yesterday?”

“I was, sir,” replied Mr. Flogg coldly. “But I have not the honour…”

“Pardon me; I thought I should find your servant here.”

“Do you know where he is, sir?” asked Aorta anxiously.

“What!” responded Filch, feigning surprise. “Is he not with you?”

“No,” said Aorta. “He has not made his appearance since yesterday. Could he have gone on board the Carnatic without us?”

“Without you, madam?” answered the detective. “Excuse me, did you intend to sail in the Carnatic?

“Yes, sir.”

“So did I, madam, and I am excessively disappointed. The Carnatic, its repairs being completed, left Hong Kong twelve hours before the stated time, without any notice being given; and we must now wait a week for another steamer.”

As he said “a week” Filch felt his heart leap for joy. Flogg detained at Hong Kong for a week! There would be time for the warrant to arrive, and fortune at last favoured the representative of the law.

His horror may be imagined when he heard Mr. Flogg say, in his placid voice, “But there are other vessels besides the Carnatic, it seems to me, in the harbour of Hong Kong.”

And, offering his arm to Aorta, he directed his steps toward the docks in search of some craft about to start. Filch, stupefied, followed; it seemed as if he were attached to Mr. Flogg by an invisible thread.

Chance, however, appeared really to have abandoned the man it had hitherto served so well. For three hours Philanderous Flogg wandered about the docks, with the determination, if necessary, to charter a vessel to carry him to Yokohama; but he could only find vessels which were loading or unloading, and which could not therefore set sail. Filch began to hope again.

Flogg had no fortune. He had been lucky in his profession; but spending freely, what had come freely, had realized nothing. But he was confident that he should soon be rich: full of life and ardour, he knew that he should soon have a ship, and soon be on a station that would lead to everything he wanted. He had always been lucky; he knew he should be so still. Such confidence, powerful in its own warmth, and bewitching in the wit which often expressed it, must have been enough for Aorta; but Filch saw it very differently. Flogg’s sanguine temper, and fearlessness of mind, operated very differently on him. He saw in it but an aggravation of the evil. It only added a dangerous character to himself. He was brilliant, he was headstrong. Filch had little taste for wit, and of anything approaching to imprudence a horror. He deprecated the connection in every light.

Such opposition, as these feelings produced, was more than Aorta could combat.

Filch suppressed a smile, and listened kindly, while Aorta relieved her heart a little more; and for a few minutes, therefore, could not keep pace with the conversation.

When she could let her attention take its natural course again, she found Mr. Flogg just fetching the Navy List, and sitting down together to pore over it, with the professed view of finding out the ships that Mr. Fellatio of the Conform Club had commanded.

“His first was the Asp, I remember; we will look for the Asp.”

“You will not find her here,” said Filch. “Quite worn out and broken up. I was the last man who commanded her. Hardly fit for service then. Reported fit for home service for a year or two, and so I was sent off to the West Indies.”

The pair looked all amazement.

“The Admiralty,” he continued, “entertain themselves now and then, with sending a few hundred men to sea, in a ship not fit to be employed. But they have a great many to provide for; and among the thousands that may just as well go to the bottom as not, it is impossible for them to distinguish the very set who may be least missed.”

“Phoo! Phoo!” cried Flogg, the Tin Gimp. “What stuff these young fellows talk! Never was a better sloop than the Asp in her day. For an old built sloop, you would not see her equal. Lucky fellow to get her! He knows there must have been twenty better men than himself applying for her at the same time. Lucky fellow to get anything so soon, with no more interest than his.”

“I felt my luck, Flogg, I assure you;” replied Filch, seriously. “I was as well satisfied with my appointment as you can desire. It was a great object with me at that time to be at sea; a very great object, I wanted to be doing something.”

“To be sure you did. What should a young fellow like you do ashore for half a year together? If a man had not a wife, he soon wants to be afloat again.”

“But, Mr. Filch,” cried Aorta, “how vexed you must have been when you came to the Asp, to see what an old thing they had given you.”

“I knew pretty well what she was before that day;” said he, smiling. “I had no more discoveries to make than you would have as to the fashion and strength of any old pelisse, which you had seen lent about among half your acquaintance ever since you could remember, and which at last, on some very wet day, is lent to yourself. Ah! She was a dear old Asp to me. She did all that I wanted. I knew she would. I knew that we should either go to the bottom together, or that she would be the making of me; and I never had two days of foul weather all the time I was at sea in her; and after taking privateers enough to be very entertaining, I had the good luck in my passage home the next autumn, to fall in with the very French frigate I wanted. I brought her into Plymouth; and here another instance of luck. We had not been six hours in the Sound, when a strange gale came on, a cyclone; which lasted four days and nights, and which would have done for poor old Asp in half the time; our touch with the Great Nation not having much improved our condition. Four-and-twenty hours later, and I should only have been a gallant Captain Filch, in a small paragraph at one corner of the newspapers; and being lost in only a sloop, nobody would have thought about me.” Aorta’s shudderings were to herself alone; but the pair could be as open as they were sincere, in their exclamations of pity and horror.

They were now hunting for the Laconia; and Filch could not deny himself the pleasure of taking the precious volume into his own hands to save them the trouble, and once more read aloud the little statement of her name and rate, and present non-commissioned class, observing over it that she too had been one of the best friends man ever had.

“Ah! Those were pleasant days when I had the Laconia! How fast I made money in her. A friend of mine and I had such a lovely cruise together off the Western Islands. Poor James Vane Forster, Flogg! You know – he wanted money: Worse than myself. He had a wife, a mother and a sister. Excellent fellow. I shall never forget his happiness. He felt it all, so much for her sake. I wished for him again the next summer, when I had still the same luck in the Mediterranean.”

“And I am sure, Sir,” said Flogg, distantly. “It was a lucky day for them, when you were put Captain into that ship. They shall never forget what you did.”

His feelings made him speak low; and Filch, hearing only in part, and probably not having the ex-servant James Forster at all near his thoughts as Philanderous Flogg did, looked rather in suspense, and as if waiting for more.

“My friend Filch,” whispered Aorta; “Mr. Flogg is thinking of poor Pissepotout.”

“Poor dear fellow!” continued Filch; “he has grown so steady, and such an excellent correspondent, while he was under your care! Ah! It would have been a happy thing, if he had never left you. I assure you, Mr. Flogg, we are very sorry he ever left you.”

But Mr. Flogg, far from being discouraged, was continuing his search, resolved not to stop if he had to resort to Macao, when he was accosted by a sailor on one of the wharves.

“Is your honour looking for a boat?”

“Have you a boat ready to sail?”

“Yes, your honour; a pilot-boat – No. 43 – the best in the harbour.”

“Does she go fast?”

“Between eight and nine knots the hour. Will you look at her?”

“Yes.”

“Your honour will be satisfied with her. Is it for a sea excursion?”

“No; for a voyage.”

“A voyage?”

“Yes, will you agree to take me to Yokohama?”

The sailor leaned on the railing, opened his eyes wide, and said, “Is your honour joking?”

“No. I have missed the Carnatic, and I must get to Yokohama by the 14th at the latest, to take the boat for San Francisco.”

“I am sorry,” said the sailor; “but it is impossible. Even the Great and Terrible Ooze could not fly you there in time; not without the power of a supernatural cyclone behind him.”

“I offer you a hundred pounds per day, and an additional reward of two hundred pounds if I reach Yokohama in time.”

“Are you in earnest?”

“Very much so.”

The pilot walked away a little distance, and gazed out to sea, evidently struggling between the anxiety to gain a large sum and the fear of venturing so far. Filch was in mortal suspense.

Mr. Flogg turned to Aorta and asked her, “You would not be afraid, would you, madam?”

“Not with you, Mr. Flogg,” was her loyal answer.

The pilot now returned, shuffling his hat in his hands.

“Well, pilot?” said Mr. Flogg.

“Well, your honour,” replied he, “I could not risk myself, my men, or my little boat of scarcely twenty tons on so long a voyage at this time of year. Besides, we could not reach Yokohama in time, for it is sixteen hundred and sixty miles from Hong Kong.”

“Only sixteen hundred,” said Mr. Flogg.

“It’s the same thing.”

Filch breathed more freely.

“But,” added the pilot, “it might be arranged another way.”

Filch ceased to breathe at all.

“How?” asked Mr. Flogg.

“By going to Nagasaki, at the extreme south of Japan, or even to Shanghai, which is only eight hundred miles from here. In going to Shanghai we should not be forced to sail wide of the Chinese coast, which would be a great advantage, as the currents run northward, and would aid us.”

“Pilot,” said Mr. Flogg, “I must take the American steamer at Yokohama, and not at Shanghai or Nagasaki.”

“Why not?” returned the pilot. “The San Francisco steamer does not start from Yokohama. It puts in at Yokohama and Nagasaki, but it starts from Shanghai.”

“You are sure of that?”

“Perfectly.”

“And when does the boat leave Shanghai?”

“On the 11th, at seven in the evening. We have, therefore, four days before us, that is ninety-six hours; and in that time, if we had good luck and a south-west wind, and the sea was calm, we could make those eight hundred miles to Shanghai.”

“And you could go…?”

“In an hour; as soon as provisions could be got aboard and the sails put up.”

“It is a bargain. Are you the master of the boat?”

“Yes; John Bunsby, master of the Tankadere.”

“Would you like some earnest-money?”

“If it would not put your honour out…”

“Here are two hundred pounds on account sir,” added Philanderous Flogg, turning to Filch, “if you would like to take advantage…?”

“Thanks to you, sir; I was about to ask the favour,” said Filch, bowing graciously.

“Very well. In half an hour we shall go on board.”

“But poor Pissepotout?” urged Aorta, who was much disturbed by the servant’s disappearance.

“I shall do all I can to find him,” replied Philanderous Flogg.

While Filch, in a feverish, nervous state, repaired to the pilot-boat, the others directed their course to the police-station at Hong Kong. Philanderous Flogg there gave Pissepotout’s description, and left a sum of money to be spent in the search for him. The same formalities having been gone through at the French consulate (where his strange mask and buckled restraints raised not even half an eyebrow), and the palanquin having stopped at the hotel for the luggage, which had been sent back there, they returned to the wharf.

It was now three o’clock; and pilot-boat No. 43, with its crew on board, and its provisions stored away, was ready for departure.

The Tankadere was a neat little craft of twenty tons, as gracefully built as if she were a racing yacht. Her shining copper sheathing, her galvanised iron-work, her deck, white as ivory, betrayed the pride taken by John Bunsby in making her presentable. Her two masts leaned a trifle backward; she carried brigantine, foresail, storm-jib, and standing-jib, and was well rigged for running before the wind; and she seemed capable of brisk speed, which, indeed, she had already proved by gaining several prizes in pilot-boat races. The crew of the Tankadere was composed of John Bunsby, the master, and four hardy mariners, who were familiar with the Chinese seas. John Bunsby, himself, a man of forty-five or thereabouts, vigorous, sunburnt, with a sprightly expression of the eye, and energetic and self-reliant countenance, would have inspired confidence in the most timid.

Philanderous Flogg and Aorta went on board, where they found Filch already installed. Below deck was a square cabin, of which the walls bulged out in the form of cots, above a circular divan; in the centre was a table provided with a swinging lamp. The accommodation was confined, but neat.

“I am sorry to have nothing better to offer you,” said Mr. Flogg to Filch, who bowed again, without responding.

The detective had a feeling akin to humiliation in profiting by the kindness of Mr. Flogg.

“It’s certain,” thought he, “though rascal as he is, he is a polite one!”

The sails and the English flag were hoisted at ten minutes past three. Mr. Flogg and Aorta, who were seated on deck, cast a last glance at the quay, in the hope of espying Pissepotout. Filch was not without his fears lest chance should direct the steps of the unfortunate servant, whom he had so badly treated, in this direction; in which case an explanation the reverse of satisfactory to the detective must have ensued. But the French poodle did not appear, and, without doubt, was still lying under the stupefying influence of the opium.

John Bunsby, master, at length gave the order to start, and the Tankadere, taking the wind under her brigantine, foresail, and standing-jib, bounded briskly forward over the waves.

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

Chapter XIX

In Which Pissepotout Takes Too Great An Interest in His Master,
and What Comes of It

Hong Kong is an island which came into the possession of the English by the Treaty of Nankin, after the war of 1842; and the colonising genius of the English has created upon it an important city and an excellent port. The island is situated at the mouth of the Canton River, and is separated by about sixty miles from the Portuguese town of Macao, on the opposite coast. Hong Kong has beaten Macao in the struggle for the Chinese trade, and now the greater part of the transportation of Chinese goods finds its depot at the former place. Docks, hospitals, wharves, a Gothic cathedral, a government house, macadamised streets, and a proliferation of gypsies give to Hong Kong the appearance of a town in Kent or Surrey transferred by some strange magic to the antipodes.

Pissepotout wandered, with his paws in his pockets, towards the Victoria port, gazing as he went at the curious palanquins and other modes of conveyance, and the groups of Chinese, Japanese, and Europeans who passed to and fro in the streets. Hong Kong seemed to him not unlike Bombay, Calcutta, and Singapore, since, like them, it betrayed everywhere the evidence of English supremacy. At the Victoria port he found a confused mass of ships of all nations: English, French, American, and Dutch, men-of-war and trading vessels, Japanese and Chinese junks, sempas, tankers, and flower-boats, which formed so many floating parterres. Pissepotout noticed in the crowd a number of the natives who seemed very old and were dressed in yellow. On going into a barber’s to get shaved he learned that these ancient men were all at least eighty years old, at which age they are permitted to wear yellow, which is the Imperial colour. Pissepotout, without exactly knowing why, thought this very funny. He surmised that it would of course disguise the stains of geriatric bladder weakness, if not the smell.

On reaching the quay where they were to embark on the Carnatic, the stench of which would disguise any smell, even that of the Devil’s own sweaty gym-locker, he was not astonished to find Filch walking up and down. The detective seemed very much disturbed and disappointed.

“This is bad,” muttered Pissepotout, “for the gentlemen of the Conform Club!”

He accosted Filch with a merry smile, as if he had not perceived that gentleman’s chagrin. The detective had, indeed, good reasons to inveigh against the bad luck which pursued him. The warrant had not come! It was certainly on the way, but as certainly it could not now reach Hong Kong for several days; and, this being the last English territory on Mr. Flogg’s route, the robber would escape, unless he could manage to detain him.

“Well, Monsieur Filch,” said Pissepotout, “have you decided to go with us so far as America?”

“Yes,” returned Filch, through his set teeth.

“Good!” exclaimed Pissepotout, laughing heartily. “I knew you could not persuade yourself to separate from us. Come and engage your berth.”

They entered the steamer office and secured cabins for four persons. The clerk, as he gave them the tickets, informed them that, the repairs on the Carnatic having been completed, the steamer would leave that very evening, and not next morning, as had been announced.

“That will suit my master all the better,” said Pissepotout. “I will go and let him know.”

Filch now decided to make a bold move; he resolved to tell Pissepotout all. It seemed to be the only possible means of keeping Philanderous Flogg several days longer at Hong Kong. He accordingly invited his companion into a tavern which caught his eye on the quay.

On entering, they found themselves in a large room handsomely decorated, at the end of which was a large camp-bed furnished with cushions. Several persons lay upon this bed in a deep sleep. At the small tables, which were arranged about the room, some thirty customers were drinking English beer, porter, gin, and brandy; smoking all the while on long red clay pipes stuffed with little balls of opium mingled with essence of rose. From time to time one of the smokers, overcome with the narcotic, would slip under the table, whereupon the waiters, taking him by the head and feet, carried and laid him upon the bed. The bed already supported twenty of these stupefied sots.

Filch and Pissepotout saw that they were in a smoking-house haunted by those wretched, cadaverous, idiotic creatures to whom the English merchants sell every year the miserable drug called opium, to the amount of one million four hundred thousand pounds – thousands devoted to one of the most despicable vices which afflict humanity! The Chinese government has in vain attempted to deal with the evil, by stringent laws. It passed gradually from the rich, to whom it was at first exclusively reserved, to the lower classes, and then its ravages could not be arrested. Opium is smoked everywhere, at all times, by men and women, in the Celestial Empire; and, once accustomed to it, the victims cannot dispense with it, except by suffering horrible bodily contortions and agonies. A great smoker can smoke as many as eight pipes a day; but he dies in five years. It was in one of these dens that Filch and Pissepotout, in search of a friendly glass, found themselves. Pissepotout had no money, but willingly accepted Filch’s invitation in the hope of returning the obligation at some future time.

They ordered two bottles of port, to which the poodle did ample justice, whilst Filch observed him with close attention. They chatted about the journey, and Pissepotout was especially merry at the idea that Filch was going to continue it with them. When the bottles were empty, however, he rose to go and tell his master of the change in the time of the sailing of the Carnatic.

Filch caught him by the arm, and said, “Wait a moment.”

“What for, Mr. Filch?”

“I want to have a serious talk with you.”

“A serious talk!” cried Pissepotout, drinking up the little fortified wine that was left in the bottom of his glass. “Well, we’ll talk about it tomorrow; I haven’t time now.”

“Stay! What I have to say concerns your master.”

Pissepotout, at this, looked attentively at his companion. Filch’s face seemed to have a singular expression. He resumed his seat.

“What is it that you have to say?”

“Well, I tell you so…” continued the detective. “I have been learning something of young Flogg.”

The large handsome face of Pissepotout grew pale to the very lips, and there came a blackness about his eyes. “I do not care to hear more,” said he. “This is a matter I thought we had agreed to drop.”

“What I heard was abominable,” said Filch.

“It can make no change. You do not understand my position,” returned the dogsbody, with a certain incoherency of manner. “I am painfully situated, Filch; my position is a very strange – a very strange one. It is one of those affairs that cannot be mended by talking.”

“Pissepotout,” said Filch, “You know me: I am a man to be trusted. Make a clean breast of this in confidence; and I make no doubt I can get you out of it.”

“My good Filch,” said the poodle. “This is very good of you, this is downright good of you, and I cannot find words to thank you in. I believe you fully; I would trust you before any man alive, aye, before myself, if I could make the choice; but indeed it isn’t what you fancy; it is not so bad as that; and just to put your good heart at rest, I will tell you one thing: the moment I choose, I can be rid of Monsieur Flogg. I give you my paw upon that; and I thank you again and again; and I will just add one little word, Filch, that I’m sure you’ll take in good part: this is a private matter, and I beg of you to let it sleep.”

Filch reflected a little, looking in the fire.

“I have no doubt you are perfectly right,” he said at last, getting to his feet as if to leave, a ploy which he hoped would extend the discussion.

“Well, but since we have touched upon this business, and for the last time I hope,” continued Pissepotout, “there is one point I should like you to understand. I have really a very great interest in poor Monsieur Flogg. I know you have seen him; he told me so; and I fear he was rude. But, I do sincerely take a great, a very great interest in that young man; and if I am taken away, Filch, I wish you to promise me that you will bear with him and get his rights for him. I think you would, if you knew all; and it would be a weight off my mind if you would promise.”

“I can’t pretend that I shall ever like him,” said the detective, mystified.

“I don’t ask that,” pleaded Pissepotout, laying his paw upon the other’s arm; “I only ask for justice; I only ask you to help him for my sake, when I am no longer here.”

The detective heaved an irrepressible sigh, and seated himself again, his effort having been rewarded. “Well,” said he, “I promise.”

Pissepotout seemed relieved, and the detective was careful to keep his feet from the damp patch beneath their table.

Filch placed his hand upon Pissepotout’s arm in turn, and, lowering his voice, said, “You have guessed who I am?”

Parbleu!” said Pissepotout, smiling.

“Then I’m going to tell you everything…”

“Now that I know everything, my friend! Ah! that’s very good. But go on, go on. First, though, let me tell you that those gentlemen have put themselves to a useless expense.”

“Useless!” said Filch. “You speak confidently. It’s clear that you don’t know how large the sum is.”

“Of course I do,” returned Pissepotout. “Twenty thousand pounds.”

“Fifty-five thousand!” answered Filch, pressing his companion’s hand.

“What!” cried the French poodle. “Has Monsieur Flogg dared – fifty-five thousand pounds! Well, there’s all the more reason for not losing an instant,” he continued, getting up hastily.

Filch pushed Pissepotout back in his chair, and resumed: “Fifty-five thousand pounds; and if I succeed, I get two thousand pounds. If you’ll help me, I’ll let you have five hundred of them.”

“Help you?” cried Pissepotout, whose eyes were standing wide open.

“Yes; help me keep Mr. Flogg here for two or three days.”

“Why, what are you saying? Those gentlemen are not satisfied with following my master and suspecting his honour, but they must try to put obstacles in his way! I blush for them!”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that it is a piece of shameful trickery. They might as well waylay Monsieur Flogg and put his money in their pockets!”

“That’s just what we count on doing.”

“It’s a conspiracy, then,” cried Pissepotout, who became more and more excited as the liquor mounted in his head, for he drank without perceiving it. “A real conspiracy! And gentlemen, too. Bah!”

Filch began to be puzzled.

“Members of the Conform Club!” continued Pissepotout. “You must know, Monsieur Filch, that my master is an honest man, and that, when he makes a wager, he tries to win it fairly!”

“But who do you think I am?” asked Filch, looking at him intently.

Parbleu! An agent of the members of the Conform Club, sent out here to interrupt my master’s journey. But, though I found you out some time ago, I’ve taken good care to say nothing about it to Monsieur Flogg.”

“He knows nothing, then?”

“Nothing,” replied Pissepotout, again emptying his glass.

The detective passed his hand across his forehead, hesitating before he spoke again. What should he do? Pissepotout’s mistake seemed sincere, but it made his design more difficult. It was evident that the servant was not the master’s accomplice, as Filch had been inclined to suspect.

“Well,” said the detective to himself, “as he is not an accomplice, he will help me.”

He had no time to lose: Flogg must be detained at Hong Kong, so he resolved to make a clean breast of it.

“Listen to me,” said Filch abruptly. “I am not, as you think, an agent of the members of the Conform Club…”

“Bah!” retorted Pissepotout, with an air of raillery. “I suppose you are about to tell me that you are the Great Ooze, wizard and terror of all Bitches.”

“I am a police detective, sent out here by the London office.”

“You, a detective?” the poodle could not have shown more surprise had Filch indeed admitted to being the legendary and terrible wizard.

“I will prove it. Here is my commission.”

Pissepotout was speechless with astonishment when Filch displayed this document, the genuineness of which could not be doubted.

“Mr. Flogg’s wager,” resumed Filch, “is only a pretext, of which you and the gentlemen of the Conform are dupes. He had a motive for securing your innocent complicity.”

“But why?”

“Listen. On the 28th of last September a robbery of fifty-five thousand pounds was committed at the Bank of England by a person whose description was fortunately secured. Here is his description; it answers exactly to that of Mr. Philanderous Flogg.”

“What nonsense!” cried Pissepotout, striking the table with his fist. “My master is the most honourable of men!”

“How can you tell? You know scarcely anything about him. You went into his service the day he came away; and he came away on a foolish pretext, without trunks, and carrying a large amount in banknotes. And yet you are bold enough to assert that he is an honest man!”

“Yes, yes,” repeated the poor fellow, mechanically.

“Would you like to be arrested as his accomplice?”

Pissepotout, overcome by what he had heard, held his head between his paws, and did not dare to look at the detective. Philanderous Flogg, the saviour of Aorta, that brave and generous man, a robber! And yet how many presumptions there were against him! Pissepotout essayed to reject the suspicions which forced themselves upon his mind; he did not wish to believe that his master was guilty.

“Well, what do you want of me?” said he, at last, with an effort.

“See here,” replied Filch; “I have tracked Mr. Flogg to this place, but as yet I have failed to receive the warrant of arrest for which I sent to London. You must help me to keep him here in Hong Kong…”

“I…! But I…”

“I will share with you the two thousand pounds reward offered by the Bank of England.”

“Never!” replied Pissepotout, who tried to rise, but fell back, exhausted in mind and body. “Mr. Filch,” he stammered. “Even should what you say be true – if my master is really the robber you are seeking – which I deny – I have been, am, in his service; I have seen his generosity and goodness; and I will never betray him – not for all the gold in the world. I come from a village where they don’t eat that kind of bread!”

“You refuse?”

“I refuse.”

“Consider that I’ve said nothing,” said Filch; “and let us drink.”

“Yes – let us drink!”

Pissepotout felt himself yielding more and more to the effects of the liquor.

Filch, seeing that he must, at all hazards, be separated from his master, wished to entirely overcome him.

Some pipes full of opium lay upon the table. Filch slipped one into Pissepotout’s paw. He took it, put it between his lips, lit it, drew several puffs, and his head, becoming heavy under the influence of the narcotic, fell upon the table.

“At last!” said Filch, seeing Pissepotout unconscious. “Mr. Flogg will not be informed of the Carnatic’s departure; and, if he is, he will have to go without this cursed lapdog!”

And, after paying his bill, and turning down a number of young ladies (and some not so young), Filch left the tavern.

Around the World in Eighty Days Yeller Brick Road: Chapter Fourteen

Chapter XIV:

In which Philanderous Flogg Descends the Whole Length of the Beautiful Valley of the Ganges Without Ever Thinking of Seeing It…

The rash exploit had been accomplished; and for an hour Pissepotout laughed gaily at his success. Sir Francis pressed the worthy fellow’s hand, and his master said, “Well done!” which, from him, was high commendation; to which Pissepotout replied that all the credit of the affair belonged to Mr. Flogg. As for him, he had only been struck with a “queer” idea; and he laughed to think that for a few moments he, Pissepotout, the ex-gymnast, ex-sergeant firedog, had been the spouse of a charming woman, a venerable, embalmed rajah! He now quite recognised her, from the theatre of his fancies in London – precisely as he had related to Filch aboard the Mongolian Falcon – but too aware of his new status and hers, did not dare to impress upon her their previous acquaintance.

As for the young Indian woman, she had been unconscious throughout of what was passing, and now, wrapped up in a travelling-blanket, was reposing in one of the howdahs.

The elephant, thanks to the skilful guidance of the Parsee, was advancing rapidly through the still darksome forest, and, an hour after leaving the pagoda, had crossed a vast plain.

The road was smooth and well paved, now, and the country about was beautiful, so that the travellers rejoiced in leaving the forest far behind, and with it the many dangers they had met in its gloomy shades. Once more they could see fences built beside the road; but these were painted green, and when they came to a small house, in which a farmer evidently lived, that also was painted green. They passed by several of these houses during the afternoon, and sometimes people came to the doors and looked at them as if they would like to ask questions; but no-one came near them nor spoke to them because of the great elephant, of which they were very much afraid. The people were all dressed in clothing of a lovely emerald-green colour, and wore peaked hats like those of the Munchlings.

They made a halt at seven o’clock, the young woman being still in a state of complete prostration. The guide made her drink a little brandy and water, but the drowsiness which stupefied her could not yet be shaken off. Sir Francis, who was familiar with the effects of the intoxication produced by the fumes of hemp, reassured his companions on her account. But he was more disturbed at the prospect of her future fate. He told Philanderous Flogg that, should Aorta remain in India, she would inevitably fall again into the hands of her executioners. These fanatics were scattered throughout the county, and would, despite the English police, recover their victim at Madras, Bombay, or Calcutta. She would only be safe by quitting India for ever.

Philanderous Flogg replied that he would reflect upon the matter.

“I should like something to eat besides fruit,” said the gentleman, “and I’m sure Piss-pot-oto is nearly starved. Let us stop at the next house and talk to the people.”

So, when they came to a good-sized farmhouse, the Parsee walked boldly up to the door and knocked.

A woman opened it just far enough to look out, and said, “What do you want, child, and why is that great elephant with you?”

“We wish to pass a meal with you, if you will allow us,” answered Sir Francis; “and the elephant is my friend and comrade, and would not hurt you for the world.”

“Is he tame?” asked the woman, opening the door a little wider.

“Oh, yes,” said the general. “He will be more afraid of you than you are of him.”

“Well,” said the woman, after thinking it over and taking another peep at the elephant, “if that is the case you may come in, and I will give you some supper and a place to rest.”

So they all entered the house, where there were, besides the woman, two children and a man. The man had hurt his leg, and was lying on the couch in a corner. They seemed greatly surprised to see so strange a company, and while the woman was busy laying the table, the man asked:

“Where are you all going?”

“To the Emmannuelle City,” said Pissepotout, “to see the Great Ooze.”

“Oh, indeed!” exclaimed the man. “Are you sure that Ooze will see you?”

“Why not?” he replied.

“Why, it is said that he never lets anyone come into his presence. I have been to the Emmannuelle City many times, and it is a beautiful and wonderful place; but I have never been permitted to see the Great Ooze, nor do I know of any living person who has seen him.”

“Does he never go out?” asked the general.

“Never. He sits day after day in the great Throne Room of his Palace, and even those who wait upon him do not see him face to face.”

“What is he like?” asked the French poodle.

“That is hard to tell,” said the man thoughtfully. “You see, Ooze is a Great Wizard, and can take on any form he wishes. So that some say he looks like a bird; and some say he looks like an elephant; and some say he looks like a cat. To others he appears as a beautiful fairy, or a brownie, or in any other form that pleases him. But who the real Ooze is, when he is in his own form, no-one can tell.”

“That is very strange,” said Philanderous Flogg, “but we must try, in some way, to see him, or we shall have made our journey for nothing.”

“Why do you wish to see the terrible Ooze?” asked the man.

“I want him to give me some brains,” said the zombie.

“Oh, Ooze could do that easily enough,” declared the man. “He has more than he needs.”

“And I want him to give me a heart,” said the general.

“That will not trouble him,” continued the man. “For Ooze has a large collection of hearts, of all sizes and shapes.”

“And I want him to give me courage,” said the Parsee.

“Ooze keeps a great pot of courage in his Throne Room,” said the man, “which he has covered with a golden plate, to keep it from running over. He will be glad to give you some.”

“And I want him to send me back to Cannes,” said Pissepotout.

“Where is Cannes?” asked the man, with surprise.

“I don’t know,” replied Pissepotout sorrowfully, “but it is my home, and I’m sure it’s somewhere.”

“Very likely. Well, Ooze can do anything; so I suppose he will find Cannes for you. But first you must get to see him, and that will be a hard task; for the Great Wizard does not like to see anyone, and he usually has his own way.”

The woman now called to them that supper was ready, so they gathered around the table and Pissepotout ate some delicious porridge and a dish of scrambled eggs and a plate of nice white bread, and enjoyed his meal. The elephant ate some of the porridge, but did not care for it, saying it was made from oats and oats were food for horses, not for elephants. Philanderous Flogg ate a little of everything, and was glad to get a good supper again.

The station at Allahabad was reached about ten o’clock, and, the interrupted line of railway being resumed, would enable them to reach Calcutta in less than twenty-four hours. Philanderous Flogg would thus be able to arrive in time to take the steamer which left Calcutta the next day, October 25th, at noon, for Hong Kong.

The young woman was placed in one of the waiting-rooms of the station, whilst Pissepotout was charged with purchasing for her various articles of toilet, a dress, shawl, and some furs; for which his master gave him unlimited credit. Pissepotout started off forthwith, and found himself in the streets of Allahabad, that is, the City of God, one of the most venerated in India, being built at the junction of the two sacred rivers, Ganges and Jumna, the waters of which attract pilgrims from every part of the peninsula. The Ganges, according to the legends of the Ramayana, rises in heaven, whence, owing to Brahma’s agency, it descends to the earth.

Pissepotout made it a point, as he made his purchases, to take a good look at the city. It was formerly defended by a noble fort, which had since become a state prison; its commerce had dwindled away, and Pissepotout in vain looked about him for such a bazaar as he used to frequent in Regent Street. At last he came upon an elderly, crusty Jew, who sold second-hand articles, and from whom he purchased a dress of Scotch stuff, a large mantle, and a fine otter-skin pelisse, for which he did not hesitate to pay seventy-five pounds. He then returned triumphantly to the station.

The influence to which the priests of Pillaji had subjected Aorta began gradually to yield, and she became more herself, so that her fine eyes resumed all their soft Indian expression.

When the poet-king, Ucaf Uddaul, celebrates the charms of the queen of Ahmehnagara, he speaks thus:

“Her shining tresses, divided in two parts, encircle the harmonious contour of her white and delicate cheeks, brilliant in their glow and freshness. Her ebony brows have the form and charm of the bow of Kama, the god of love, and beneath her long silken lashes the purest reflections and a celestial light swim, as in the sacred lakes of Himalaya, in the black pupils of her great clear eyes. Her teeth, fine, equal, and white, glitter between her smiling lips like dewdrops in a passion-flower’s half-enveloped breast. Her delicately formed ears, her vermilion hands, her little feet, curved and tender as the lotus-bud, glitter with the brilliancy of the loveliest pearls of Ceylon, the most dazzling diamonds of Golconda. Her narrow and supple waist, which a hand may clasp around, sets forth the outline of her rounded figure and the beauty of her bosom, where youth in its flower displays the wealth of its treasures; and beneath the silken folds of her tunic she seems to have been modelled in pure silver by the godlike hand of Vicvarcarma, the immortal sculptor.”

It is enough to say, without applying this poetical rhapsody to Aorta, that she was a charming woman, in all the European acceptation of the phrase. She spoke English with great purity, and the guide had not exaggerated in saying that the young Parsee had been transformed by her upbringing.

The train was about to start from Allahabad, and Mr. Flogg proceeded to pay the guide the price agreed upon for his service, and not a farthing more; which astonished Pissepotout, who remembered all that his master owed to the guide’s devotion. He had, indeed, risked his life in the adventure at Pillaji, and, if he should be caught afterwards by the Indians, he would with difficulty escape their vengeance.

Kiouni, also, must be disposed of. What should be done with the elephant, which had been so dearly purchased?

Philanderous Flogg had already determined this question.

“Parsee,” said he to the guide, “you have been serviceable and devoted. I have paid for your service, but not for your devotion. Would you like to have this elephant? He is yours.”

The guide’s eyes glistened.

“Your honour is giving me a fortune!” cried he.

“Take him, guide,” returned Mr. Flogg, “and I shall still be your debtor.”

“Good!” exclaimed Pissepotout. “Take him, friend. Kiouni is a brave and faithful beast.” And, going up to the elephant, he gave him several lumps of sugar, saying, “Here, Kiouni, here, here.”

The elephant grunted out his satisfaction, and, clasping Pissepotout around the waist with his trunk, lifted him as high as his head. Pissepotout, not in the least alarmed, caressed the animal, who replaced him gently on the ground.

Soon after, Philanderous Flogg, Sir Francis Crapperty, and Pissepotout, installed in a carriage with Aorta, who had the best seat, were whirling at full speed towards Benares. It was a run of eighty miles, and was accomplished in two hours. During the journey, the young woman fully recovered her senses. What was her astonishment to find herself in this carriage, on the railway, dressed in European habiliments, and with travellers who were quite strangers to her! Her companions first set about fully reviving her with a little liquor, and then Sir Francis narrated to her what had passed, dwelling upon the courage with which Philanderous Flogg had not hesitated to risk his life to save her, and recounting the happy sequel of the venture, the result of Pissepotout’s rash idea. Mr. Flogg said nothing; while Pissepotout, abashed, kept repeating that “it wasn’t worth telling.”

Aorta pathetically thanked her deliverers, rather with tears than words; her fine eyes interpreted her gratitude better than her lips. Then, as her thoughts strayed back to the scene of the sacrifice, and recalled the dangers which still menaced her, she shuddered with terror.

Philanderous Flogg understood what was passing in Aorta’s mind, and offered, in order to reassure her, to escort her to Hong Kong, where she might remain safely until the affair was hushed up – an offer which she eagerly and gratefully accepted. She had, it seems, a Parsee relation, who was one of the principal merchants of Hong Kong, which is wholly an English city, though on an island on the Chinese coast.

At half-past twelve the train stopped at Benares. The Brahmin legends assert that this city is built on the site of the ancient Casi, which, like Mahomet’s tomb, was once suspended between heaven and earth; though the Benares of to-day, which the Orientalists call the Athens of India, stands quite unpoetically on the solid earth. Pissepotout caught glimpses of its brick houses and clay huts, giving an aspect of desolation to the place, as the train entered it.

Benares was Sir Francis Crapperty’s destination, the troops he was rejoining being encamped some miles northward of the city. He bade adieu to Philanderous Flogg, wishing him all success, and expressing the hope that they would coincide at the Emmannuelle City, and that he would come that way again in a less original but more profitable fashion. Mr. Flogg lightly pressed him by the hand. The parting of Aorta, who did not forget what she owed to Sir Francis, betrayed more warmth; and, as for Pissepotout, he received a hearty shake of the hand from the gallant general.

The railway, on leaving Benares, passed for a while along the valley of the Ganges. Through the windows of their carriage the travellers had glimpses of the diversified landscape of Behar, with its mountains clothed in verdure, its fields of barley, wheat, and corn, its jungles peopled with green alligators, its neat villages, and its still thickly-leaved forests. Elephants were bathing in the waters of the sacred river, and groups of Indians, despite the advanced season and chilly air, were performing solemnly their pious ablutions. These were fervent Brahmins, the bitterest foes of Buddhism, their deities being Vishnu, the solar god, Shiva, the divine impersonation of natural forces, and Brahma, the supreme ruler of priests and legislators. What would these divinities think of India, anglicised as it is today, with steamers whistling and scudding along the Ganges, frightening the gulls which float upon its surface, the turtles swarming along its banks, and the faithful dwelling upon its borders?

The panorama passed before their eyes like a flash, save when the steam concealed it fitfully from the view; the travellers could scarcely discern the fort of Chupenie, twenty miles south-westward from Benares, the ancient stronghold of the rajahs of Behar; or Ghazipur and its famous rose-water factories; or the tomb of Lord Cornwallis, rising on the left bank of the Ganges; the fortified town of Buxar, or Patna, a large manufacturing and trading-place, where is held the principal opium market of India; or Monghir, a more than European town, for it is as English as Manchester or Birmingham, with its iron foundries, edgetool factories, and high chimneys puffing clouds of black smoke heavenward.

Night came on; the train passed on at full speed, in the midst of the roaring of the tigers, bears, and wolves which fled before the locomotive; and the marvels of Bengal, Golconda ruined Gour, Murshedabad, the ancient capital, Burdwan, Hugly, and the French town of Chandernagor, where Pissepotout would have been proud to see his country’s flag flying, were hidden from their view in the darkness.

“Extra tight tonight, Piss-pot-oto,” ordered the gentleman, as the French poodle unpacked the nocturnal accoutrements. “And perhaps some additional flogging. There is a young lady in the next-door compartment. I would not wish upon her the Beast.”

“If the Great Ooze gives you brains,” Pissepotout began, “will your appetite be satisfied forever, monsieur?”

“One can hope,” Philanderous Flogg replied, succumbing to the straps buckled around his chest, attached to the bunk. “There is also the risk that it will be sharpened instead. But we must not give our fellow travellers cause for alarm. Very good…” He tested the restraints, and the mattress creaked beneath him. “A little tighter – and then, I think, the cat o’nine tails, and a quick going-over with the birch twigs should suffice…”

Pissepotout set about his master obediently, shutting his ears to the wincing and moaning that emerged. And as Philanderous Flogg lay in a stupor afterwards, while cleaning and re-packing the equipment the faithful poodle heard him murmuring, reminiscing.

“…The most racking pangs succeeded: A grinding in the bones, deadly nausea, and a horror of the spirit that cannot be exceeded at the hour of birth or death. Then these agonies began swiftly to subside, and I came to myself as if out of a great sickness. There was something strange in my sensations, something indescribably new and, from its very novelty, incredibly sweet. I felt younger, lighter, happier in body; within I was conscious of a heady recklessness, a current of disordered sensual images running like a mill-race in my fancy, a solution of the bonds of obligation, an unknown but not an innocent freedom of the soul. I knew myself, at the first breath of this new life, to be more wicked, tenfold more wicked, sold a slave to my original evil; and the thought, in that moment, braced and delighted me like wine. I stretched out my hands, exulting in the freshness of these sensations; and in the act, I was suddenly aware that I had lost in stature. There was no mirror, at that date, in my room. The night, however, was far gone into the morning – the morning, black as it was, was nearly ripe for the conception of the day – the inmates of my house, James Forster and the Munchlings, were locked in the most rigorous hours of slumber; and I determined, flushed as I was with hope and triumph, to venture in my new shape as far as to my bedroom. I crossed the yard, wherein the constellations looked down upon me, I could have thought, with wonder, the first creature of that sort that their unsleeping vigilance had yet disclosed to them; I stole through the corridors, a stranger in my own house; and coming to my room, I saw for the first time the appearance of the undead.”

Quietly, Pissepotout wiped a tear from his eye, and silently closed the compartment door behind him.

Momentarily he paused outside the young Parsee woman’s sleeper, wondering whether to knock and check her welfare. At the back of his mind, a brief fancy of dropping to one knee and re-iterating his undying love as he had done so in London; but the elevation between their statuses was now insurmountable, even to his gymnastic abilities. What had passed in London had been an infatuation of youth – now, she almost a Princess, and he a whipping-dog. The fantasy of their reunion would forever be impossible to realise.

“There are worse things than honour,” he told himself sternly, and turned to his own small cubicle to pass the night.

If Aorta was disturbed by the physical infractions occurring in her neighbouring compartments, she gave no sign, and apparently passed a peaceful night.

Calcutta was reached at seven in the morning, and the packet left for Hong Kong at noon; so that Philanderous Flogg had five hours before him.

According to his journal, he was due at Calcutta on the 25th of October, and that was the exact date of his actual arrival. He was therefore neither behind-hand nor ahead of time. The two days gained between London and Bombay had been lost, as has been seen, in the journey across India. But it is not to be supposed that Philanderous Flogg regretted them.

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 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.