Around the World in Eighty Days – Day 41 of 87

But Mr. Fogg, far from being discouraged, was continuing his search, resolved not to stop if he had to resort to Macao, when he was accosted by a sailor on one of the wharves.

“Is your honour looking for a boat?”

“Have you a boat ready to sail?”

“Yes, your honour; a pilot-boat–No. 43–the best in the harbour.”

“Does she go fast?”

“Between eight and nine knots the hour. Will you look at her?”

“Yes.”

“Your honour will be satisfied with her. Is it for a sea excursion?”

“No; for a voyage.”

“A voyage?”

“Yes, will you agree to take me to Yokohama?”

The sailor leaned on the railing, opened his eyes wide, and said, “Is your honour joking?”

“No. I have missed the Carnatic, and I must get to Yokohama by the 14th at the latest, to take the boat for San Francisco.”

“I am sorry,” said the sailor; “but it is impossible.”

“I offer you a hundred pounds per day, and an additional reward of two hundred pounds if I reach Yokohama in time.”

“Are you in earnest?”

“Very much so.”

The pilot walked away a little distance, and gazed out to sea, evidently struggling between the anxiety to gain a large sum and the fear of venturing so far. Fix was in mortal suspense.

Mr. Fogg turned to Aouda and asked her, “You would not be afraid, would you, madam?”

“Not with you, Mr. Fogg,” was her answer.

The pilot now returned, shuffling his hat in his hands.

“Well, pilot?” said Mr. Fogg.

“Well, your honour,” replied he, “I could not risk myself, my men, or my little boat of scarcely twenty tons on so long a voyage at this time of year. Besides, we could not reach Yokohama in time, for it is sixteen hundred and sixty miles from Hong Kong.”

“Only sixteen hundred,” said Mr. Fogg.

“It’s the same thing.”

Fix breathed more freely.

“But,” added the pilot, “it might be arranged another way.”

Fix ceased to breathe at all.

“How?” asked Mr. Fogg.

“By going to Nagasaki, at the extreme south of Japan, or even to Shanghai, which is only eight hundred miles from here. In going to Shanghai we should not be forced to sail wide of the Chinese coast, which would be a great advantage, as the currents run northward, and would aid us.”

“Pilot,” said Mr. Fogg, “I must take the American steamer at Yokohama, and not at Shanghai or Nagasaki.”

“Why not?” returned the pilot. “The San Francisco steamer does not start from Yokohama. It puts in at Yokohama and Nagasaki, but it starts from Shanghai.”

“You are sure of that?”

“Perfectly.”

“And when does the boat leave Shanghai?”

“On the 11th, at seven in the evening. We have, therefore, four days before us, that is ninety-six hours; and in that time, if we had good luck and a south-west wind, and the sea was calm, we could make those eight hundred miles to Shanghai.”

“And you could go–“

“In an hour; as soon as provisions could be got aboard and the sails put up.”

“It is a bargain. Are you the master of the boat?”

“Yes; John Bunsby, master of the Tankadere.”

“Would you like some earnest-money?”

“If it would not put your honour out–“

“Here are two hundred pounds on account sir,” added Phileas Fogg, turning to Fix, “if you would like to take advantage–“

“Thanks, sir; I was about to ask the favour.”

“Very well. In half an hour we shall go on board.”

“But poor Passepartout?” urged Aouda, who was much disturbed by the servant’s disappearance.

“I shall do all I can to find him,” replied Phileas Fogg.

While Fix, in a feverish, nervous state, repaired to the pilot-boat, the others directed their course to the police-station at Hong Kong. Phileas Fogg there gave Passepartout’s description, and left a sum of money to be spent in the search for him. The same formalities having been gone through at the French consulate, and the palanquin having stopped at the hotel for the luggage, which had been sent back there, they returned to the wharf.

It was now three o’clock; and pilot-boat No. 43, with its crew on board, and its provisions stored away, was ready for departure.

The Tankadere was a neat little craft of twenty tons, as gracefully built as if she were a racing yacht. Her shining copper sheathing, her galvanised iron-work, her deck, white as ivory, betrayed the pride taken by John Bunsby in making her presentable. Her two masts leaned a trifle backward; she carried brigantine, foresail, storm-jib, and standing-jib, and was well rigged for running before the wind; and she seemed capable of brisk speed, which, indeed, she had already proved by gaining several prizes in pilot-boat races. The crew of the Tankadere was composed of John Bunsby, the master, and four hardy mariners, who were familiar with the Chinese seas. John Bunsby, himself, a man of forty-five or thereabouts, vigorous, sunburnt, with a sprightly expression of the eye, and energetic and self-reliant countenance, would have inspired confidence in the most timid.

Phileas Fogg and Aouda went on board, where they found Fix already installed. Below deck was a square cabin, of which the walls bulged out in the form of cots, above a circular divan; in the centre was a table provided with a swinging lamp. The accommodation was confined, but neat.

“I am sorry to have nothing better to offer you,” said Mr. Fogg to Fix, who bowed without responding.

The detective had a feeling akin to humiliation in profiting by the kindness of Mr. Fogg.

“It’s certain,” thought he, “though rascal as he is, he is a polite one!”

The sails and the English flag were hoisted at ten minutes past three. Mr. Fogg and Aouda, who were seated on deck, cast a last glance at the quay, in the hope of espying Passepartout. Fix was not without his fears lest chance should direct the steps of the unfortunate servant, whom he had so badly treated, in this direction; in which case an explanation the reverse of satisfactory to the detective must have ensued. But the Frenchman did not appear, and, without doubt, was still lying under the stupefying influence of the opium.

John Bunsby, master, at length gave the order to start, and the Tankadere, taking the wind under her brigantine, foresail, and standing-jib, bounded briskly forward over the waves.

Comments

  1. ScottS-M Identiconcomment_author_IP, $comment->comment_author); }else{echo $gravatar_link;}}*/ ?>

    ScottS-M wrote:

    I’m not used to talking about boats in tons. Google turned up a picture of a 15-20 ton Navy boat from the 1940’s on a site about the Finnish Navy.

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