Chapter 31

Phileas Fogg was now twenty hours behind time and Passepartout was desperate. Fix then comes to Fogg with the suggestion that they travel to Omaha on a sledge with sails. Fogg meets the American named Mudge, who had suggested this innovation. Fogg inspects the somewhat strange vehicle and agrees to travel in this sledge. Aouda is asked to stay with Passepartout but she refuses and wants to travel along with Fogg. Thus the entire group-Fogg, Passepartout, Aouda and of course the Captain of the sledge-Mudge, travel together to Omaha station. They manage to traverse the two hundred miles in the extreme cold and reach Omaha. Fogg pays Mudge liberally. They take a train from Omaha to Chicago and another from Chicago to New York. But on reaching New York they find out that the ship bound for Liverpool has already left.

In this chapter, Fix the supposed adversary actually helps Fogg. At the starting of the chapter, Fogg is running extremely late and has no means of moving from Omaha station. It is then that Fix comes up with a suggestion that they travel on a sledge to Omaha Station. An American had previously approached Fix with the idea of travelling on a sledge with sails. Fix introduces this American named Mudge to Fogg and Fogg inspects the vehicle before deciding whether he would be able to travel on it. We can see that this is one man, who will not take decisions hastily. There will always be an adequate thought process and sensible decision-making involved.

It is these qualities, which make him the undoubted hero of this novel. Fogg comes to terms with the skipper of the land craft and agrees to use this unique method of travel. Being the gentleman that he is he does not wish to expose Aouda to the harsh weather and asks her to stay back at the station with Passepartout. But she refuses and insists on traveling with him.

We can see that this pair is ‘meant to be’ and that their feelings for each other are growing every day.

Verne needs to be complimented once again for his unflagging pace in the narrative. In the previous chapter, travelers were being rescued from the Sioux and in this one the voyagers travel in a strange craft-a sledge with sails!

The journey on a sledge is unique and a ‘speechless’ one. The passengers feel too cold to be able to talk. Fogg makes only one comment, an interesting one at that. We see that he has knowledge of music too. They reach Omaha Station and from here, travel is no problem. The station is well connected to Chicago, which in turn is well connected to New York.

Verne makes his narrative interesting by varying the pace at different occasions. The journey from Omaha to New York is completed in a few paragraphs. A disappointment awaits Fogg at New York-the ship that he was to board for Liverpool-has already left.

Chapter 32

Fogg’s last hope seemed to have gone with the ‘China’, the boat that leaves for Liverpool from New York. Passepartout is crushed by the fact that the boat has been missed because of him. Fogg merely says that they will decide the next day, on what needs to be done. They stay the night at a Hotel and the next day, Fogg leaves the hotel alone, in order to look for a ship. He sees a trading vessel of fine lines-the ‘Henrietta’ and goes to meet the Captain. Fogg wants to know, whether the Captain-Andrew Speedy-will take passengers to Liverpool. The latter refuses but Fogg manages to strike a deal, for a journey to Bordeaux. He offers two thousand dollars for each person and there are four. Thus, the foursome-Fogg, Aouda, Passepartout and Fix board the ship-Henrietta-for Bordeaux.

Once again, Fogg shows his calm demeanor. The ship ‘China’ had left only forty-five minutes before they reached New York. The group now has no way of traveling to Liverpool at the speed that the ‘China’ would have taken. While everybody is upset, Fogg makes the most reasonable and practical suggestion and that is to check into a hotel for the night and have some rest. It is really humorous to note that while Fogg sleeps soundly, both Aouda and Passepartout cannot rest because of their anxiety. They do not know how they are going to come out of their predicament. The next morning Fogg goes looking for a ship alone. One can almost imagine this handsome Englishman, going about calmly trying to find a solution to his problem. It is the best way, which works for him. The man is designed to find solutions and to work efficiently. He does find a reasonable looking ship-the Henrietta but this time the Captain of the ship is unreasonable. So far, Fogg has been lucky to come across reliable and good-natured sailors to take him on special boats but we now see that Fogg’s luck is running into a bad patch. Andrew Speedy is greedy and selfish. But, Fogg manages to strike a deal and that is to take the passengers to Bordeaux. We wonder why Fogg agrees to Bordeaux and the question in our mind is answered in the next chapter.

While all that Fogg is thinking about is the completion of his journey, Passepartout is very worried about the financial loss that he has caused his master. Fix has something else to mope about, he knows that Fogg has already spent a great part of the reward money, so he wonders what will be left for himself after Fogg is arrested.

Our passengers start their journey on the Henrietta. We wait and see what happens next.

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