AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница

The Sioux had at the same time invaded the cars, skipping like

enraged monkeys over the roofs, thrusting open the doors,

and fighting hand to hand with the passengers. Penetrating the

baggage-car, they pillaged it, throwing the trunks out of the train.

The cries and shots were constant. The travellers defended

themselves bravely; some of the cars were barricaded,

and sustained a siege, like moving forts, carried along

at a speed of a hundred miles an hour.

Aouda behaved courageously from the first. She defended herself

like a true heroine with a revolver, which she shot through the broken

windows whenever a savage made his appearance AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница. Twenty Sioux had fallen

mortally wounded to the ground, and the wheels crushed those who fell

upon the rails as if they had been worms. Several passengers,

shot or stunned, lay on the seats.

It was necessary to put an end to the struggle, which had lasted

for ten minutes, and which would result in the triumph of the Sioux

if the train was not stopped. Fort Kearney station, where there was

a garrison, was only two miles distant; but, that once passed,

the Sioux would be masters of the train between Fort Kearney

and the station beyond.

The conductor was fighting beside Mr. Fogg, when AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница he was shot and fell.

At the same moment he cried, "Unless the train is stopped in five minutes,

we are lost!"

"It shall be stopped," said Phileas Fogg, preparing to rush from the car.

"Stay, monsieur," cried Passepartout; "I will go."

Mr. Fogg had not time to stop the brave fellow, who, opening a door

unperceived by the Indians, succeeded in slipping under the car;

and while the struggle continued and the balls whizzed across each

other over his head, he made use of his old acrobatic experience,

and with amazing agility worked his way under the cars, holding on

to AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница the chains, aiding himself by the brakes and edges of the sashes,

creeping from one car to another with marvellous skill,

and thus gaining the forward end of the train.

There, suspended by one hand between the baggage-car and the tender,

with the other he loosened the safety chains; but, owing to the traction,

he would never have succeeded in unscrewing the yoking-bar,

had not a violent concussion jolted this bar out. The train,

now detached from the engine, remained a little behind,

whilst the locomotive rushed forward with increased speed.

Carried on by the force already AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница acquired, the train still moved

for several minutes; but the brakes were worked and at last they stopped,

less than a hundred feet from Kearney station.

The soldiers of the fort, attracted by the shots, hurried up;

the Sioux had not expected them, and decamped in a body before

the train entirely stopped.

But when the passengers counted each other on the station platform

several were found missing; among others the courageous Frenchman,

whose devotion had just saved them.

Chapter XXX

IN WHICH PHILEAS FOGG SIMPLY DOES HIS DUTY

Three passengers including Passepartout had disappeared. Had they been

killed in the struggle AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница? Were they taken prisoners by the Sioux?

It was impossible to tell.

There were many wounded, but none mortally. Colonel Proctor was one

of the most seriously hurt; he had fought bravely, and a ball had entered

his groin. He was carried into the station with the other wounded passengers,

to receive such attention as could be of avail.

Aouda was safe; and Phileas Fogg, who had been in the thickest

of the fight, had not received a scratch. Fix was slightly

wounded in the arm. But Passepartout was not to be found,

and tears coursed down Aouda's cheeks.

All the passengers had got out AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница of the train, the wheels

of which were stained with blood. From the tyres and spokes

hung ragged pieces of flesh. As far as the eye could reach

on the white plain behind, red trails were visible. The last Sioux

were disappearing in the south, along the banks of Republican River.

Mr. Fogg, with folded arms, remained motionless. He had a serious

decision to make. Aouda, standing near him, looked at him without speaking,



and he understood her look. If his servant was a prisoner, ought he not

to risk everything to rescue him from the Indians? "I will find him,

living or dead," said AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница he quietly to Aouda.

"Ah, Mr.--Mr. Fogg!" cried she, clasping his hands

and covering them with tears.

"Living," added Mr. Fogg, "if we do not lose a moment."

Phileas Fogg, by this resolution, inevitably sacrificed himself;

he pronounced his own doom. The delay of a single day would make

him lose the steamer at New York, and his bet would be certainly lost.

But as he thought, "It is my duty," he did not hesitate.

The commanding officer of Fort Kearney was there. A hundred

of his soldiers had placed themselves in a position to defend

the station, should the Sioux AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница attack it.

"Sir," said Mr. Fogg to the captain, "three passengers have disappeared."

"Dead?" asked the captain.

"Dead or prisoners; that is the uncertainty which must be solved.

Do you propose to pursue the Sioux?"

"That's a serious thing to do, sir," returned the captain.

"These Indians may retreat beyond the Arkansas, and I cannot

leave the fort unprotected."

"The lives of three men are in question, sir," said Phileas Fogg.

"Doubtless; but can I risk the lives of fifty men to save three?"

"I don't know whether you can, sir; but you ought to do so."

"Nobody AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница here," returned the other, "has a right to teach me my duty."

"Very well," said Mr. Fogg, coldly. "I will go alone."

"You, sir!" cried Fix, coming up; "you go alone in pursuit of the Indians?"

"Would you have me leave this poor fellow to perish--

him to whom every one present owes his life? I shall go."

"No, sir, you shall not go alone," cried the captain,

touched in spite of himself. "No! you are a brave man.

Thirty volunteers!" he added, turning to the soldiers.

The whole company started forward at once. The captain had

only to AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница pick his men. Thirty were chosen, and an old sergeant

placed at their head.

"Thanks, captain," said Mr. Fogg.

"Will you let me go with you?" asked Fix.

"Do as you please, sir. But if you wish to do me a favour,

you will remain with Aouda. In case anything should happen to me--"

A sudden pallor overspread the detective's face. Separate himself

from the man whom he had so persistently followed step by step!

Leave him to wander about in this desert! Fix gazed attentively

at Mr. Fogg, and, despite his suspicions and of the struggle

which was going on within him, he AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница lowered his eyes before that calm

and frank look.

"I will stay," said he.

A few moments after, Mr. Fogg pressed the young woman's hand, and,

having confided to her his precious carpet-bag, went off with the sergeant

and his little squad. But, before going, he had said to the soldiers,

"My friends, I will divide five thousand dollars among you, if we save

the prisoners."

It was then a little past noon.

Aouda retired to a waiting-room, and there she waited alone,

thinking of the simple and noble generosity, the tranquil courage

of Phileas Fogg. He AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница had sacrificed his fortune, and was now

risking his life, all without hesitation, from duty, in silence.

Fix did not have the same thoughts, and could scarcely conceal

his agitation. He walked feverishly up and down the platform,

but soon resumed his outward composure. He now saw the folly of which

he had been guilty in letting Fogg go alone. What! This man,

whom he had just followed around the world, was permitted now to

separate himself from him! He began to accuse and abuse himself,

and, as if he were director of police, administered to himself

a sound lecture for his greenness.

"I have been an AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница idiot!" he thought, "and this man will see it.

He has gone, and won't come back! But how is it that I, Fix,

who have in my pocket a warrant for his arrest, have been

so fascinated by him? Decidedly, I am nothing but an ass!"

So reasoned the detective, while the hours crept by all too slowly.

He did not know what to do. Sometimes he was tempted to tell Aouda all;

but he could not doubt how the young woman would receive his confidences.

What course should he take? He thought of pursuing Fogg AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница across

the vast white plains; it did not seem impossible that he might overtake him.

Footsteps were easily printed on the snow! But soon, under a new sheet,

every imprint would be effaced.

Fix became discouraged. He felt a sort of insurmountable longing

to abandon the game altogether. He could now leave Fort Kearney station,

and pursue his journey homeward in peace.

Towards two o'clock in the afternoon, while it was snowing hard,

long whistles were heard approaching from the east. A great shadow,

preceded by a wild light, slowly advanced, appearing still larger

through the mist, which gave it a fantastic AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница aspect. No train

was expected from the east, neither had there been time for the succour

asked for by telegraph to arrive; the train from Omaha to San Francisco

was not due till the next day. The mystery was soon explained.

The locomotive, which was slowly approaching with deafening whistles,

was that which, having been detached from the train, had continued

its route with such terrific rapidity, carrying off the unconscious

engineer and stoker. It had run several miles, when, the fire becoming

low for want of fuel, the steam had slackened; and it had finally stopped

an hour after, some twenty miles beyond Fort Kearney. Neither the AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница engineer

nor the stoker was dead, and, after remaining for some time in their swoon,

had come to themselves. The train had then stopped. The engineer, when he

found himself in the desert, and the locomotive without cars, understood

what had happened. He could not imagine how the locomotive had become

separated from the train; but he did not doubt that the train left behind

was in distress.

He did not hesitate what to do. It would be prudent to continue

on to Omaha, for it would be dangerous to return to the train,

which the Indians might still be engaged in AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница pillaging.

Nevertheless, he began to rebuild the fire in the furnace;

the pressure again mounted, and the locomotive returned,

running backwards to Fort Kearney. This it was which was whistling

in the mist.

The travellers were glad to see the locomotive resume its

place at the head of the train. They could now continue

the journey so terribly interrupted.

Aouda, on seeing the locomotive come up, hurried out of the station,

and asked the conductor, "Are you going to start?"

"At once, madam."

"But the prisoners, our unfortunate fellow-travellers--"

"I cannot interrupt the trip," replied the conductor.

"We are already three hours behind time AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница."

"And when will another train pass here from San Francisco?"

"To-morrow evening, madam."

"To-morrow evening! But then it will be too late! We must wait--"

"It is impossible," responded the conductor. "If you wish to go,

please get in."

"I will not go," said Aouda.

Fix had heard this conversation. A little while before, when there

was no prospect of proceeding on the journey, he had made up his mind

to leave Fort Kearney; but now that the train was there, ready to start,

and he had only to take his seat in the car, an irresistible AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница influence

held him back. The station platform burned his feet, and he could not stir.

The conflict in his mind again began; anger and failure stifled him.

He wished to struggle on to the end.

Meanwhile the passengers and some of the wounded, among them

Colonel Proctor, whose injuries were serious, had taken their

places in the train. The buzzing of the over-heated boiler was

heard, and the steam was escaping from the valves. The engineer

whistled, the train started, and soon disappeared, mingling

its white smoke with the eddies of the densely falling snow.

The detective had remained behind.

Several hours passed. The AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница weather was dismal, and it was very cold.

Fix sat motionless on a bench in the station; he might have been

thought asleep. Aouda, despite the storm, kept coming out

of the waiting-room, going to the end of the platform,

and peering through the tempest of snow, as if to pierce

the mist which narrowed the horizon around her, and to hear,

if possible, some welcome sound. She heard and saw nothing.

Then she would return, chilled through, to issue out again

after the lapse of a few moments, but always in vain.

Evening came, and the little band had not returned. Where could AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница they be?

Had they found the Indians, and were they having a conflict with them,

or were they still wandering amid the mist? The commander of the fort

was anxious, though he tried to conceal his apprehensions.

As night approached, the snow fell less plentifully,

but it became intensely cold. Absolute silence rested on the plains.

Neither flight of bird nor passing of beast troubled the perfect calm.

Throughout the night Aouda, full of sad forebodings, her heart

stifled with anguish, wandered about on the verge of the plains.

Her imagination carried her far off, and showed her innumerable dangers AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница.

What she suffered through the long hours it would be impossible to describe.

Fix remained stationary in the same place, but did not sleep.

Once a man approached and spoke to him, and the detective

merely replied by shaking his head.

Thus the night passed. At dawn, the half-extinguished disc of the sun

rose above a misty horizon; but it was now possible to recognise objects

two miles off. Phileas Fogg and the squad had gone southward;

in the south all was still vacancy. It was then seven o'clock.

The captain, who was really alarmed, did not know what AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница course to take.

Should he send another detachment to the rescue of the first?

Should he sacrifice more men, with so few chances of saving those

already sacrificed? His hesitation did not last long, however.

Calling one of his lieutenants, he was on the point of ordering

a reconnaissance, when gunshots were heard. Was it a signal?

The soldiers rushed out of the fort, and half a mile off they

perceived a little band returning in good order.

Mr. Fogg was marching at their head, and just behind him were

Passepartout and the other two travellers, rescued from the Sioux.

They had met and fought AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница the Indians ten miles south of Fort Kearney.

Shortly before the detachment arrived, Passepartout and his companions

had begun to struggle with their captors, three of whom the Frenchman

had felled with his fists, when his master and the soldiers hastened up

to their relief.

All were welcomed with joyful cries. Phileas Fogg distributed

the reward he had promised to the soldiers, while Passepartout,

not without reason, muttered to himself, "It must certainly be

confessed that I cost my master dear!"

Fix, without saying a word, looked at Mr. Fogg, and it would have

been difficult to analyse the thoughts which struggled within him.

As AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница for Aouda, she took her protector's hand and pressed it in her own,

too much moved to speak.

Meanwhile, Passepartout was looking about for the train; he thought

he should find it there, ready to start for Omaha, and he hoped

that the time lost might be regained.

"The train! the train!" cried he.

"Gone," replied Fix.

"And when does the next train pass here?" said Phileas Fogg.

"Not till this evening."

"Ah!" returned the impassible gentleman quietly.

Chapter XXXI

IN WHICH FIX, THE DETECTIVE,

CONSIDERABLY FURTHERS THE INTERESTS OF PHILEAS FOGG

Phileas Fogg found himself twenty hours behind time.

Passepartout AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница, the involuntary cause of this delay, was desperate.

He had ruined his master!

At this moment the detective approached Mr. Fogg, and,

looking him intently in the face, said:

"Seriously, sir, are you in great haste?"

"Quite seriously."

"I have a purpose in asking," resumed Fix. "Is it absolutely

necessary that you should be in New York on the 11th, before nine o'clock

in the evening, the time that the steamer leaves for Liverpool?"

"It is absolutely necessary."

"And, if your journey had not been interrupted by these Indians,

you would have reached New York on the morning of the 11th AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница?"

"Yes; with eleven hours to spare before the steamer left."

"Good! you are therefore twenty hours behind. Twelve from twenty

leaves eight. You must regain eight hours. Do you wish to try to do so?"

"On foot?" asked Mr. Fogg.

"No; on a sledge," replied Fix. "On a sledge with sails.

A man has proposed such a method to me."

It was the man who had spoken to Fix during the night, and

whose offer he had refused.

Phileas Fogg did not reply at once; but Fix, having pointed out the man,

who was walking up and down in front AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница of the station, Mr. Fogg went up to him.

An instant after, Mr. Fogg and the American, whose name was Mudge,

entered a hut built just below the fort.

There Mr. Fogg examined a curious vehicle, a kind of frame on two long beams,

a little raised in front like the runners of a sledge, and upon which there

was room for five or six persons. A high mast was fixed on the frame, held

firmly by metallic lashings, to which was attached a large brigantine sail.

This mast held an iron stay upon which to hoist a jib-sail. Behind, a AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница sort

of rudder served to guide the vehicle. It was, in short, a sledge rigged

like a sloop. During the winter, when the trains are blocked up by the snow,

these sledges make extremely rapid journeys across the frozen plains from one

station to another. Provided with more sails than a cutter, and with the wind

behind them, they slip over the surface of the prairies with a speed equal

if not superior to that of the express trains.

Mr. Fogg readily made a bargain with the owner of this land-craft.

The wind was favourable, being fresh, and blowing from AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница the west.

The snow had hardened, and Mudge was very confident of being able

to transport Mr. Fogg in a few hours to Omaha. Thence the trains

eastward run frequently to Chicago and New York. It was not impossible

that the lost time might yet be recovered; and such an opportunity

was not to be rejected.

Not wishing to expose Aouda to the discomforts of travelling

in the open air, Mr. Fogg proposed to leave her with Passepartout

at Fort Kearney, the servant taking upon himself to escort her

to Europe by a better route and under more favourable conditions.

But Aouda refused to separate from Mr AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница. Fogg, and Passepartout

was delighted with her decision; for nothing could induce him

to leave his master while Fix was with him.

It would be difficult to guess the detective's thoughts. Was this

conviction shaken by Phileas Fogg's return, or did he still regard him

as an exceedingly shrewd rascal, who, his journey round the world completed,

would think himself absolutely safe in England? Perhaps Fix's opinion

of Phileas Fogg was somewhat modified; but he was nevertheless resolved

to do his duty, and to hasten the return of the whole party to England

as much as possible.

At eight o'clock the sledge was ready AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница to start. The passengers

took their places on it, and wrapped themselves up closely

in their travelling-cloaks. The two great sails were hoisted,

and under the pressure of the wind the sledge slid over the hardened

snow with a velocity of forty miles an hour.

The distance between Fort Kearney and Omaha, as the birds fly,

is at most two hundred miles. If the wind held good, the distance

might be traversed in five hours; if no accident happened the sledge

might reach Omaha by one o'clock.

What a journey! The travellers, huddled close together, could not speak

for the cold, intensified AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница by the rapidity at which they were going.

The sledge sped on as lightly as a boat over the waves. When the breeze

came skimming the earth the sledge seemed to be lifted off the ground

by its sails. Mudge, who was at the rudder, kept in a straight line,

and by a turn of his hand checked the lurches which the vehicle

had a tendency to make. All the sails were up, and the jib

was so arranged as not to screen the brigantine. A top-mast was hoisted,

and another jib, held out to the wind, added its force AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница to the other sails.

Although the speed could not be exactly estimated, the sledge could not

be going at less than forty miles an hour.

"If nothing breaks," said Mudge, "we shall get there!"

Mr. Fogg had made it for Mudge's interest to reach Omaha

within the time agreed on, by the offer of a handsome reward.

The prairie, across which the sledge was moving in a straight

line, was as flat as a sea. It seemed like a vast frozen lake.

The railroad which ran through this section ascended from the

south-west to the north-west by Great Island, Columbus,

an important AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница Nebraska town, Schuyler, and Fremont, to Omaha.

It followed throughout the right bank of the Platte River.

The sledge, shortening this route, took a chord of the arc

described by the railway. Mudge was not afraid of being stopped

by the Platte River, because it was frozen. The road, then, was quite

clear of obstacles, and Phileas Fogg had but two things to fear--

an accident to the sledge, and a change or calm in the wind.

But the breeze, far from lessening its force, blew as if to

bend the mast, which, however, the metallic lashings held firmly.

These lashings, like the AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница chords of a stringed instrument,

resounded as if vibrated by a violin bow. The sledge slid along

in the midst of a plaintively intense melody.

"Those chords give the fifth and the octave," said Mr. Fogg.

These were the only words he uttered during the journey.

Aouda, cosily packed in furs and cloaks, was sheltered

as much as possible from the attacks of the freezing wind.

As for Passepartout, his face was as red as the sun's disc

when it sets in the mist, and he laboriously inhaled the biting air.

With his natural buoyancy of spirits, he began to hope AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница again.

They would reach New York on the evening, if not on the morning,

of the 11th, and there was still some chances that it would be before

the steamer sailed for Liverpool.

Passepartout even felt a strong desire to grasp his ally, Fix, by the hand.

He remembered that it was the detective who procured the sledge,

the only means of reaching Omaha in time; but, checked by some presentiment,

he kept his usual reserve. One thing, however, Passepartout would

never forget, and that was the sacrifice which Mr. Fogg had made,

without hesitation, to rescue him from AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница the Sioux. Mr. Fogg had risked

his fortune and his life. No! His servant would never forget that!

While each of the party was absorbed in reflections so different,

the sledge flew past over the vast carpet of snow.

The creeks it passed over were not perceived. Fields and streams

disappeared under the uniform whiteness. The plain was absolutely deserted.

Between the Union Pacific road and the branch which unites Kearney

with Saint Joseph it formed a great uninhabited island.

Neither village, station, nor fort appeared. From time to time

they sped by some phantom-like tree, whose white skeleton twisted

and rattled in AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница the wind. Sometimes flocks of wild birds rose,

or bands of gaunt, famished, ferocious prairie-wolves ran howling

after the sledge. Passepartout, revolver in hand, held himself ready

to fire on those which came too near. Had an accident then happened

to the sledge, the travellers, attacked by these beasts, would have been

in the most terrible danger; but it held on its even course, soon gained

on the wolves, and ere long left the howling band at a safe distance behind.

About noon Mudge perceived by certain landmarks that he was

crossing the Platte River. He said nothing, but he felt certain

that he was now AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница within twenty miles of Omaha. In less than an

hour he left the rudder and furled his sails, whilst the sledge,

carried forward by the great impetus the wind had given it,

went on half a mile further with its sails unspread.

It stopped at last, and Mudge, pointing to a mass of roofs

white with snow, said: "We have got there!"

Arrived! Arrived at the station which is in daily communication,

by numerous trains, with the Atlantic seaboard!

Passepartout and Fix jumped off, stretched their stiffened limbs,

and aided Mr. Fogg and the young woman to descend from the AROUND THE WORLD IN EIGHTY DAYS 13 страница sledge.

Phileas Fogg generously rewarded Mudge, whose hand Passepartout

warmly grasped, and the party directed their steps to the Omaha

railway station.

The Pacific Railroad proper finds its terminus at this

important Nebraska town. Omaha is connected with

Chicago by the Chicago and Rock Island Railroad,

which runs directly east, and passes fifty stations.

A train was ready to start when Mr. Fogg and his party reached

the station, and they only had time to get into the cars.

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