Passepartout remained on deck as long as the tempest lasted, being unable to remain quiet below, and taking it into his head to aid the progress of the ship by lending a hand with the crew. He overwhelmed the captain, officers, and sailors, who could not help laughing at his impatience, with all sorts of questions. He wanted to know exactly how long the storm was going to last; whereupon he was referred to the barometer, which seemed to have no intention of rising. Passepartout shook it, but with no perceptible effect; for neither shaking nor maledictions could prevail upon it to change its mind.
On the 4th, however, the sea became more calm, and the storm lessened its violence; the wind veered southward, and was once more favourable. Passepartout cleared up with the weather. Some of the sails were unfurled, and the Rangoon resumed its most rapid speed. The time lost could not, however, be regained. Land was not signalled until five o’clock on the morning of the 6th; the steamer was due on the 5th. Phileas Fogg was twenty-four hours behind-hand, and the Yokohama steamer would, of course, be missed.
The pilot went on board at six, and took his place on the bridge, to guide the Rangoon through the channels to the port of Hong Kong. Passepartout longed to ask him if the steamer had left for Yokohama; but he dared not, for he wished to preserve the spark of hope, which still remained till the last moment. He had confided his anxiety to Fix who–the sly rascal!–tried to console him by saying that Mr. Fogg would be in time if he took the next boat; but this only put Passepartout in a passion.
Mr. Fogg, bolder than his servant, did not hesitate to approach the pilot, and tranquilly ask him if he knew when a steamer would leave Hong Kong for Yokohama.
“At high tide to-morrow morning,” answered the pilot.
“Ah!” said Mr. Fogg, without betraying any astonishment.
Passepartout, who heard what passed, would willingly have embraced the pilot, while Fix would have been glad to twist his neck.
“What is the steamer’s name?” asked Mr. Fogg.
“Ought she not to have gone yesterday?”
“Yes, sir; but they had to repair one of her boilers, and so her departure was postponed till to-morrow.”
“Thank you,” returned Mr. Fogg, descending mathematically to the saloon.
Passepartout clasped the pilot’s hand and shook it heartily in his delight, exclaiming, “Pilot, you are the best of good fellows!”
The pilot probably does not know to this day why his responses won him this enthusiastic greeting. He remounted the bridge, and guided the steamer through the flotilla of junks, tankas, and fishing boats which crowd the harbour of Hong Kong.
At one o’clock the Rangoon was at the quay, and the passengers were going ashore.
Chance had strangely favoured Phileas Fogg, for had not the Carnatic been forced to lie over for repairing her boilers, she would have left on the 6th of November, and the passengers for Japan would have been obliged to await for a week the sailing of the next steamer. Mr. Fogg was, it is true, twenty-four hours behind his time; but this could not seriously imperil the remainder of his tour.