Phileas Fogg, reached the Reform Club, an imposing edifice in Pall Mall. He repaired at once to the dining room and took his place at the habitual table. His breakfast is minutely described. He then spent a considerable amount of time reading newspapers. Dinner passed as breakfast had done, and Mr. Fogg reappeared in the reading room. Mr. Fogg’s usual partners at whist appear and they all begin to discuss a famous robbery that had recently taken place at a bank in London. Phileas joins this conversation when he says that - ‘The Daily Telegraph says that he (the robber) is a gentleman."
The affair, which formed the subject, was this - A package of banknotes, to the value of fifty-five thousand pounds, had been taken from the principal cashier’s table. When the money was not found even at five o’clock, the amount was passed to the account of profit and loss. As soon as the robbery was discovered, picked detectives hastened off to various ports, inspired by the proffered reward of two thousand pounds, and five per cent on the sum that might be recovered. There were real grounds for supposing that the thief did not belong to a professional band but was a gentleman. The papers and clubs were full of the affair, and everywhere people were discussing the probabilities of a successful pursuit; and the Reform Club was especially agitated, several of its members being Bank officials.
Ralph and Stuart, both whist players argue whether the thief would be caught or not. Stuart questions - ‘Where could he (the thief) go, then?’’ Ralph replies - "Oh, I don’t know that. The world is big enough." It is here that Fogg once again joins the conversation, when he says - "It was once,". Phileas Fogg is questioned as to what he means by ‘once’ and then the conversation proceeds in such a way that Mr. Fogg declares that it is possible to go around the world in eighty days. John Sullivan supports this conjecture and shows the group the estimate made by the Daily Telegraph that claims that a journey round the world can be done in eighty days. Mr. Stuart thinks that the journey may sound plausible theoretically but is not feasible practically. He dares Mr. Fogg to complete such a feat himself and in his excitement, he puts a wager of four thousand. Phileas Fogg insists that he can carry out the exercise and says - "A true Englishman doesn’t joke when he is talking about so serious a thing as a wager," He bets twenty thousand pounds against anyone that he will make the tour of the world in eighty days or less. "We accept," replied Messrs. Stuart, Fallentin, Sullivan, Flanagan, and Ralph, after consulting each other.
Mr. Fogg decides to take the train to Dover that very evening and tells his challengers that he would be back in the Reform Club, on Saturday, the 21 st of December.
A memorandum of the wager was at once drawn up and signed by the six parties. The party offered to suspend the game so that Mr. Fogg might make his preparations for departure but the latter is calm and insists on playing some more.
Jules Verne greatly emphasizes the accuracy with which Mr. Fogg goes about his every day activities. In the very starting of the third chapter, he writes - "... having shut the door of his house at half past eleven, and 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..." Mr. Fogg reached the Reform Club. The reader reads about Fogg’s slightly eccentric, yet accurate habits. We realize that he is a man of class and apparently has very good taste.
Mr. Fogg’s passion is the game of whist and this is one thing that cannot be carried out alone. His fellow whist players at the club join him. The conversation revolves around a recent robbery at the Bank of England. Jules Verne assures that the reader always remains interested in what he/ she is reading. We now hear about an interesting robbery and observe that in any discussion, Mr. Fogg always assumes a quiet and superior position.
Jules Verne maintains a ready account of life in England in the first few chapters. His characters are not represented in isolation, they are a part of a large, living civilization. He writes - " 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, scrutinized it, passed it to his neighbor, 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..."
It is interesting to note that the author writes that 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. In the previous two chapters, we have read about Mr. Fogg’s immaculate appearance, gentlemanly ways and mysterious source of wealth. When we read that a probable suspect for the robbery is a well-dressed man, we wonder whether Mr. Fogg is the high society robber. In this way, Mr. Verne manages to keep us curious.
A description of the well-dressed suspect of the robbery was easily procured and sent to the detectives. On this fact, a debate started amongst the whist players. Ralph 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 Stuart was far from sharing this confidence; and, as they placed themselves at the whist table, they continued to argue the matter. Stuart and Flanagan played together, while Phileas Fogg had Fallentin for his partner. As the game proceeded the conversation ceased, excepting between the rubbers, when it revived again.
The main theme of the novel is introduced in this third chapter - the question of the plausibility of a journey around the world in eighty days. Fogg believes that it is entirely possible whereas the other whist players oppose this idea. Stuart claims that it might be possible to go around in eighty days, but that doesn’t take into account bad weather, contrary winds, shipwrecks, railway accidents, and so on.
"All included," returned Phileas Fogg, continuing to play despite the discussion.
"But suppose the Hindoos or Indians pull up the rails," replied Stuart; "suppose they stop the trains, pillage the luggage vans, and scalp the passengers!"
"All included," calmly retorted Fogg; adding, as he threw down the cards, "Two trumps." Mr. Fogg appears clam and rational throughout. He comes across, as a man who would not speak through his hat, who would be able to act out that which he said was possible. Indeed, his very character seems to be stand for the celebration of rationality and order. He is the new age man, a product of industrialization.
Mr. Fogg’s supreme confidence irritates Stuart, who bets a wager that Fogg himself will not be able to go around the world in eighty days. Fogg says in reply - "I should like nothing better." He adds that he is ready to leave immediately and warns them that the feat will be carried out at their expense. We note that while Mr. Fogg is saying all this, he maintains a calm demeanor and is not agitated as Mr. Stuart is. He appears almost arrogant and continues playing the game of cards well. He is undoubtedly the unquestioned hero of the journey around the world.
Jules Verne explains that Fogg 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 reader is left a little astonished at the pace at which the story travels. Mr. Fogg has agreed to the challenge and has promised to start his journey around the world. The man, who appeared to follow a strict schedule within the confines of his house and the club, is now about to set on a crazy tour around the world. This will surely come as a surprise to Passepartout and we see that it does.