Fix made up his mind that, if worst came to worst, he would make a confidant of Passepartout, and tell him what kind of a fellow his master really was. That Passepartout was not Fogg’s accomplice, he was very certain. The servant, enlightened by his disclosure, and afraid of being himself implicated in the crime, would doubtless become an ally of the detective. But this method was a dangerous one, only to be employed when everything else had failed. A word from Passepartout to his master would ruin all. The detective was therefore in a sore strait. But suddenly a new idea struck him. The presence of Aouda on the Rangoon, in company with Phileas Fogg, gave him new material for reflection.
Who was this woman? What combination of events had made her Fogg’s travelling companion? They had evidently met somewhere between Bombay and Calcutta; but where? Had they met accidentally, or had Fogg gone into the interior purposely in quest of this charming damsel? Fix was fairly puzzled. He asked himself whether there had not been a wicked elopement; and this idea so impressed itself upon his mind that he determined to make use of the supposed intrigue. Whether the young woman were married or not, he would be able to create such difficulties for Mr. Fogg at Hong Kong that he could not escape by paying any amount of money.
But could he even wait till they reached Hong Kong? Fogg had an abominable way of jumping from one boat to another, and, before anything could be effected, might get full under way again for Yokohama.
Fix decided that he must warn the English authorities, and signal the Rangoon before her arrival. This was easy to do, since the steamer stopped at Singapore, whence there is a telegraphic wire to Hong Kong. He finally resolved, moreover, before acting more positively, to question Passepartout. It would not be difficult to make him talk; and, as there was no time to lose, Fix prepared to make himself known.
It was now the 30th of October, and on the following day the Rangoon was due at Singapore.
Fix emerged from his cabin and went on deck. Passepartout was promenading up and down in the forward part of the steamer. The detective rushed forward with every appearance of extreme surprise, and exclaimed, “You here, on the Rangoon?”
“What, Monsieur Fix, are you on board?” returned the really astonished Passepartout, recognising his crony of the Mongolia. “Why, I left you at Bombay, and here you are, on the way to Hong Kong! Are you going round the world too?”
“No, no,” replied Fix; “I shall stop at Hong Kong–at least for some days.”
“Hum!” said Passepartout, who seemed for an instant perplexed. “But how is it I have not seen you on board since we left Calcutta?”
“Oh, a trifle of sea-sickness–I’ve been staying in my berth. The Gulf of Bengal does not agree with me as well as the Indian Ocean. And how is Mr. Fogg?”
“As well and as punctual as ever, not a day behind time! But, Monsieur Fix, you don’t know that we have a young lady with us.”
“A young lady?” replied the detective, not seeming to comprehend what was said.
Passepartout thereupon recounted Aouda’s history, the affair at the Bombay pagoda, the purchase of the elephant for two thousand pounds, the rescue, the arrest, and sentence of the Calcutta court, and the restoration of Mr. Fogg and himself to liberty on bail. Fix, who was familiar with the last events, seemed to be equally ignorant of all that Passepartout related; and the later was charmed to find so interested a listener.
“But does your master propose to carry this young woman to Europe?”
“Not at all. We are simply going to place her under the protection of one of her relatives, a rich merchant at Hong Kong.”
“Nothing to be done there,” said Fix to himself, concealing his disappointment. “A glass of gin, Mr. Passepartout?”
“Willingly, Monsieur Fix. We must at least have a friendly glass on board the Rangoon.”