Chapter 11

The train started punctually. Among the passengers were a number of officers, government officials, and opium and indigo merchants. Passepartout rode in the same carriage with his master, and a third passenger occupied a seat opposite to them. This was Sir Francis Cromarty, one of Mr. Fogg’s whist partners on the Mongolia. Sir Francis knew a lot about India but Fogg was not interested in knowing anything from the former. Sir Francis Cromarty had observed the oddity of his travelling companion although the only opportunity he had for studying him had been while he was dealing the cards, and between two rubbers and questioned himself whether a human heart really beat beneath this cold exterior, and whether Phileas Fogg had any sense of the beauties of nature. The brigadier general was free to mentally confess that, of all the eccentric persons he had ever met, none was comparable to this product of the exact sciences. Phileas Fogg had not concealed from Sir Francis his design of going round the world and the general only saw in the wager a useless eccentricity and a lack of sound common sense. In the way this strange gentleman was going on, he would leave the world without having done any good to himself or anybody else.

The course of the train is described along with the scanty conversation that Fogg has with Comarty. Comarty warns Fogg that the latter might get into trouble because of Passepartout’s entering the holy pagoda at Bombay. Fogg feels that his servant’s mistake cannot harm him in any way. Passepartout, on waking and looking out, could not realize that he was actually crossing India in a railway train. The land through which the train passes is described here.

At half past twelve the train stopped at Burhampoor, where Passepartout was able to purchase some Indian slippers, ornamented with false pearls, in which, he proceeded to encase his feet. The travelers made a hasty breakfast and started off for Assurghur, after skirting for a little the banks of the small river Tapty, which empties into the Gulf of Cambray, near Surat. Passepartout was now plunged into absorbing reverie. He worried about the wager and whether Fogg would be able to complete his mission. He realizes that this is not a jest and that his master is serious about traversing the globe.

The train stopped, at eight o’clock, in the midst of a glade some fifteen miles beyond Rothal, where there were several bungalows, and workmen’s cabins. The conductor, passing along the carriages, shouted, "Passengers will get out here!" Phileas Fogg looked at Sir Francis Cromarty for an explanation; but the general could not tell what meant a halt in the midst of this forest of dates and acacias. Passepartout, not less surprised, rushed out and speedily returned, crying: "Monsieur, no more railway!" They learn that the rail has not been lain from this place till Allahabad and so the passengers will have to find their own way to Allahabad and from there they can once again board a train to Calcutta. While Sir Francis and Passepartout are very angry, Fogg is calm and looks for a means of transport.

Passepartout finds an elephant and they all go to have a look at it. They soon reach a small hut, near which, enclosed within some high palings, was the animal in question. Kiouni this was the name of the beast could doubtless travel rapidly for a long time, and, in default of any other means of conveyance, Mr. Fogg resolved to hire him. But, the mahout was unwilling to hire out the elephant even at a high price. Phileas Fogg, without getting in the least flurried, then proposed to purchase the animal outright, and at first offered a thousand pounds for him. Sir Francis Cromarty took Mr. Fogg aside, and begged him to reflect before he went any further; to which that gentleman replied that he was not in the habit of acting rashly, that a bet of twenty thousand pounds was at stake, that the elephant was absolutely necessary to him, and that he would secure him if he had to pay twenty times his value. At two thousand pounds the Indian yielded.

They found a guide easily. A young Parsee, with an intelligent face, offered his services, which Mr. Fogg accepted, promising a generous reward as to stimulate his zeal. The elephant was led out and equipped. Phileas Fogg paid the Indian with some banknotes, which he extracted from the famous carpet bag. Then Fogg offered to carry Sir Francis to Allahabad, which the brigadier gratefully accepted. Provisions were purchased at Kholby, and, while Sir Francis and Mr. Fogg took the howdahs on either side, Passepartout got astride the saddle cloth between them. The Parsee perched himself on the elephant’s neck, and at nine o’clock they set out from the village, the animal marching off through the dense forest of palms by the shortest cut.

In this chapter, Fogg’s and Passepartout’s journey by train is described. One of their companions is Sir Francis, who was with them on the ship too. He was now on his way to join his corps at Benares. Verne manages to create miniature life size pictures of the characters that Fogg comes across in his journey. He writes about Sir Francis that he was a tall, fair man of fifty, who had greatly distinguished himself in the last Sepoy revolt. He made India his home, only paying brief visits to England at rare intervals; and was almost as familiar as a native with the customs, history, and character of India and its people.

But Phileas Fogg, who was not travelling, but only describing a circumference, took no pains to inquire into these subjects; he was a solid body, traversing an orbit around the terrestrial globe, according to the laws of rational mechanics. He was at this moment calculating in his mind the number of hours spent since his departure from London, and, had it been in his nature to make a useless demonstration, would have rubbed his hands for satisfaction. Verne successfully contrasts Sir Francis with Fogg - one who is more of a sociological creature and the other who is more didactic and rational.

We get a view of the passing Indian landscape - An hour after leaving Bombay the train had passed the viaducts and the Island of Salcette, and had got into the open country. At Callyan they reached the junction of the branch line, which descends towards southeastern India by Kandallah and Pounah; and, passing Pauwell, they entered the defiles of the mountains, with their basalt bases, and their summits crowned with thick and verdant forests. Phileas Fogg and Sir Francis Cromarty exchanged a few words from time to time, and now Sir Francis, reviving the conversation, observed, "Some years ago, Mr. Fogg, you would have met with a delay at this point which would probably have lost you your wager."

"How so, Sir Francis?" "Because the railway stopped at the base of these mountains, which the passengers were obliged to cross in palanquins or on ponies to Kandallah, on the other side." "Such a delay would not have deranged my plans in the least," said Mr. Fogg. "I have constantly foreseen the likelihood of certain obstacles."

"But, Mr. Fogg," pursued Sir Francis, "you run the risk of having some difficulty about this worthy fellow’s adventure at the pagoda."

We note how unsurprised and rational Fogg appears at all occasions. Whenever challenged with a proposition or faced with a new idea, he calmly inquires more about it without showing any signs of excitement or agitation.

Meanwhile, Passepartout - his feet comfortably wrapped in his travelling-blanket, was sound asleep and did not dream that anybody was talking about him. He is a gentle source of comedy throughout the novel - his blustering ways, his innocence, his agility as a ex-circus man, his sincerity, his follies are all characteristics that endear him to the reader. Sir Francis tells Fogg that the Government is very severe upon that kind of offence and that it takes particular care that the religious customs of the Indians should be respected. He warns Fogg of the dangers of punishment if Passepartout were caught. "Very well, Sir Francis," replied Mr. Fogg; "if he had been caught he would have been condemned and punished, and then would have quietly returned to Europe. I don’t see how this affair could have delayed his master." Fogg’s reply as usual is unruffled and confident. He seems to be able to anticipate all problems and find solutions to all of them too.

During the night, the train left the mountains behind, and passed Nassik, and the next day proceeded over the flat, well-cultivated country of the Khandeish, with its straggling villages, above which rose the minarets of the pagodas. Numerous small rivers water this fertile territory along with limpid streams, mostly tributaries of the Godavery. The Indian land is portrayed as a wild and exotic one - such a description was typical of the English writing about India. Verne writes - " The locomotive, guided by an English engineer and fed with English coal, threw out its smoke upon cotton, coffee, nutmeg, clove, and pepper plantations, while the steam curled in spirals around groups of palm trees, in the midst of which were seen picturesque bungalows, viharis (sort of abandoned monasteries), and marvelous temples enriched by the exhaustless ornamentation of Indian architecture. Then they came upon vast tracts extending to the horizon, with jungles inhabited by snakes and tigers, which fled at the noise of the train; succeeded by forests penetrated by the railway, and still haunted by elephants which, with pensive eyes, gazed at the train as it passed. The travelers crossed, beyond Milligaum, the fatal country so often stained with blood by the sectaries of the goddess Kali. Not far off rose Ellora, with its graceful pagodas, and the famous Aurungabad, capital of the ferocious Aureng-Zeb, now the chief town of one of the detached provinces of the kingdom of the Nizam. It was thereabouts that Feringhea, the Thuggee chief, king of the stranglers, held his sway. These ruffians, united by a secret bond, strangled victims of every age in honor of the goddess Death, without ever shedding blood; there was a period when this part of the country could scarcely be traveled over without corpses being found in every direction. The English Government has succeeded in greatly diminishing these murders, though the Thuggees still exist, and pursue the exercise of their horrible rites."

We get a glimpse into the simple Passepartout’s mind - Up to his arrival at Bombay, he had entertained hopes that their journey would end there; but, now that they were plainly whirling across India at full speed, a sudden change had come over the spirit of his dreams. His old vagabond nature returned to him; the fantastic ideas of his youth once more took possession of him. He came to regard his master’s project as intended in good earnest, believed in the reality of the bet, and therefore in the tour of the world and the necessity of making it without fail within the designated period. Already he began to worry about possible delays, and accidents, which might happen on the way. He recognized himself as being personally interested in the wager, and trembled at the thought that he might have been the means of losing it by his unpardonable folly of the night before. Being much less cool-headed than Mr. Fogg, he was much more restless, counting and recounting the days passed over, uttering maledictions when the train stopped, and accusing it of sluggishness, and mentally blaming Mr. Fogg for not having bribed the engineer. The worthy fellow was ignorant that, while it was possible by such means to hasten the rate of a steamer, it could not be done on the railway.

The train entered the defiles of the Sutpour Mountains, which separate the Khandeish from Bundelcund, towards evening. The next day Sir Francis Cromarty asked Passepartout what time it was; to which, on consulting his watch, he replied that it was three in the morning. This famous timepiece, always regulated on the Greenwich meridian, which was now some seventy-seven degrees westward, was at least four hours slow. Sir Francis corrected Passepartout’s time, whereupon the latter made the same remark that he had done to Fix; and obstinately refused to alter his watch, which he kept at London time. It was an innocent delusion that could harm no one. Though the reference to the change in time as one travels is not taken too seriously by the reader here, at the end of the novel we understand the importance of these various references. Previously, even Fix had pointed out the error in Passepartout’s watch’s time. Both Fogg and Passepartout think that they have reached England late but the reality is that they reach a day earlier as they had not realized that they had gained a day by travelling eastward.

When the train stops in the wilderness, we once again note the contrast between Sir Francis and Fogg. The general at once stepped out, while Phileas Fogg calmly followed him, and they proceeded together to the conductor. "Where are we?" asked Sir Francis. "At the hamlet of Kholby." "Do we stop here?" "Certainly. The railway isn’t finished." "What! not finished?" "No. There’s still a matter of fifty miles to be laid from here to Allahabad, where the line begins again.’’ The fact is that though the papers announced the opening of the railway throughout, the papers were mistaken. "Yet you sell tickets from Bombay to Calcutta," retorted Sir Francis, who was growing warm. "No doubt," replied the conductor; "but the passengers know that they must provide means of transportation for themselves from Kholby to Allahabad." Sir Francis was furious. Passepartout would willingly have knocked the conductor down, and did not dare to look at his master. But, Fogg is calm and says quietly - "Sir Francis, we will, if you please, look about for some means of conveyance to Allahabad."

The reader almost claps when Fogg once again says that even this delay was foreseen. It is not that Fogg knew about the unfinished rail but he knew that some obstacle or other would sooner or later arise on his route. Nothing, therefore, was lost. Fogg is confident of reaching Calcutta by time. There was nothing to say to so confident a response.

Verne masters the art of first presenting a perspective through the people involved and then objectively, through a higher point of view. It was but too true that the railway came to a termination at this point. The papers were like some watches, which have a way of getting too fast, and had been premature in their announcement of the completion of the line. The greater part of the travelers were aware of this interruption, and, leaving the train, they began to engage such vehicles as the village could provide - four-wheeled palkigharis, wagons drawn by zebus, carriages that looked like perambulating pagodas, palanquins, ponies, and what not.

Fogg and Sir Francis’s search proves futile for some time and then Passepartout finds an elephant. We notice that Fogg never rejects any outlandish idea. He has an open mind and is keen to have a look at the elephant immediately. An Indian came out of the hut, and, at their request, conducted them within the enclosure. The elephant, which its owner had reared, not for a beast of burden, but for warlike purposes, was half domesticated. The Indian had begun already, by often irritating him, and feeding him every three months on sugar and butter, to impart to him a ferocity not in his nature, this method being often employed by those who train the Indian elephants for battle. Happily, however, for Mr. Fogg, the animal’s instruction in this direction had not gone far, and the elephant still preserved his natural gentleness.

We are indeed impressed by Verne’s knowledge of India as well as all the other parts of the world that Fogg passes through. We wonder whether the character of Fogg is a reflection of his creator - Verne himself. Verne writes - " But elephants are far from cheap in India, where they are becoming scarce, the males, which alone are suitable for circus shows, are much sought, especially as but few of them are domesticated. When therefore Mr. Fogg proposed to the Indian to hire Kiouni, he refused point-blank. Mr. Fogg persisted, offering the excessive sum of ten pounds an hour for the loan of the beast to Allahabad. Refused. Twenty pounds? Refused also. Forty pounds? Still refused. Passepartout jumped at each advance; but the Indian declined to be tempted. Yet the offer was an alluring one, for, supposing it took the elephant fifteen hours to reach Allahabad, his owner would receive no less than six hundred pounds sterling."

Finally, Fogg buys the elephant at a very expensive price. "What a price, good heavens!" cried Passepartout, "for an elephant. Passepartout seems more concerned about his master’s money than Fogg himself. Passepartout’s discomfort at the spending of huge amounts of money never fails to amuse the reader. After the party purchases the elephant, they proceed to find a mahout who can control the elephant till Allahabad. They find a Parsee. The Parsee, who was an accomplished elephant driver, covered the elephant’s back with a sort of saddle-cloth, and attached to each of his flanks some curiously uncomfortable howdahs. Thus, Sir Francis, Passepartout and Fogg seat themselves on an elephant and are off. The story is so remarkably written that the reader feels that he/ she too is travelling around the world.

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Staff, TheBestNotes. "TheBestNotes on Around the World in Eighty Days". . 09 May 2017