Chapter 29

The train pursues its course. Thirteen hundred and eighty two miles had now been traveled over from San Francisco in three days and three nights. Fogg and his partners were busy with cards, when suddenly Colonel Proctor is among them. He is rude and sarcastic to Fogg and there is a war of words. Fogg and the Colonel decide to duel with each other and Fogg wants to arrange for a meeting six months hence. But the Colonel wants to fight immediately and so they decide to do that at Plum Greek, a train stop.

Fix is to be the second in the impending duel. But the guard rushes up to them at the station, saying that the train will not be stopping there. The guard suggests that the duo should fight in the train itself-in the carriages to the rear. Just before Fogg and the Colonel commence dueling the air is rent with savage yells and detonations. The train was being attacked by a band of Sioux who were armed with guns. They swarm the carriages and a fight between them and the passengers ensues. Aouda showed great courage and defended herself heroically. The guard who was fighting beside Fogg cried that if the train is not stopped, the Sioux would win. Passepartout hears this too and manages to slip under the train carriages. He removes the safety chains and a violent jolt separates the train and the engine. The train comes to a stand still near Kearney Fort station. The soldiers of the fort hear the firing and hurry up and the Sioux scampers away. But when the passengers are counted on the station platform, it is found that several are missing, including Passepartout.

Verne never lets the pace of his narrative to lessen or to become boring. We move from one adventure or incident to the next at a speed equivalent to that of a train.

In the first part of the chapter, the train’s route is described. The passing landscape is not enjoyed by our travelers as they are busy playing cards. Fogg as usual is playing very well, with luck entirely on his side. Aouda, Fix and Passepartout are happy that Fogg, who is thus distracted, will not meet Proctor. But, suddenly Proctor appears on the scene and a war of words ensues. He unnecessarily says rude things and Fogg retaliates, as any honorable Englishman would. Even in an argument, Fogg usually has the upper hand because of his calmness. He speaks back but in such a serene manner that it is all the more biting. His strength is his solid control over his nerves, which gives him command over other people and situations too. Fogg is a celebration of the ‘civilized man.’ Fogg requests Proctor to have a duel with him six months later as he cannot afford to lose time on his journey to Europe. Proctor does not accept this proposition, thinking it to be an excuse. So Fogg and he agree to have a duel there and then. They get off at Plum Creek station to have their duel but are stopped by a well meaning guard-the train would not be stopping there.

Before getting down on the Station, Fogg had reassured Aouda that one need never be afraid of blusterers. One can see the flowering of a relationship between our Indian princess and our prince of preciseness-Fogg. And till the last minute, Fogg continues to play his game quietly. The guard asks them to fight on the train itself. It is interesting to note that everybody on the train is understanding towards two men who wish to settle a question of honor with each other. It reflects the thought of society at that time and duels were common in the early 1900’s both in America and England.

But just before Fogg and Proctor can start fighting the train is attacked by the Sioux. Fogg and Proctor of course get diverted and fight the Sioux instead. This scene is perhaps the most dramatic one in the entire narrative. After all here is true danger in the form of guns and tomahawks wielded by the Sioux. The passengers fight back bravely including Aouda. Once again, her qualities are shown such as equivalent to that of Fogg. She defends herself brilliantly with a revolver. The hero of this chapter though is the clever Passepartout. It is he who uses his acrobatic skills in order to separate the engine and the train. The guard had shouted out to Fogg that if the train was not stopped the Sioux would win. Passepartout had heard that cry too and it is he who managed to separate the engine and the train. The train comes to a stop near Fort Kearney station and the Sioux scamper away in fear of the armed soldiers. But, some passengers are missing, including the heroic Passepartout.

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