“I am a police detective, sent out here by the London office.”
“You, a detective?”
“I will prove it. Here is my commission.”
Passepartout was speechless with astonishment when Fix displayed this document, the genuineness of which could not be doubted.
“Mr. Fogg’s wager,” resumed Fix, “is only a pretext, of which you and the gentlemen of the Reform are dupes. He had a motive for securing your innocent complicity.”
“Listen. On the 28th of last September a robbery of fifty-five thousand pounds was committed at the Bank of England by a person whose description was fortunately secured. Here is his description; it answers exactly to that of Mr. Phileas Fogg.”
“What nonsense!” cried Passepartout, striking the table with his fist. “My master is the most honourable of men!”
“How can you tell? You know scarcely anything about him. You went into his service the day he came away; and he came away on a foolish pretext, without trunks, and carrying a large amount in banknotes. And yet you are bold enough to assert that he is an honest man!”
“Yes, yes,” repeated the poor fellow, mechanically.
“Would you like to be arrested as his accomplice?”
Passepartout, overcome by what he had heard, held his head between his hands, and did not dare to look at the detective. Phileas Fogg, the saviour of Aouda, that brave and generous man, a robber! And yet how many presumptions there were against him! Passepartout essayed to reject the suspicions which forced themselves upon his mind; he did not wish to believe that his master was guilty.
“Well, what do you want of me?” said he, at last, with an effort.
“See here,” replied Fix; “I have tracked Mr. Fogg to this place, but as yet I have failed to receive the warrant of arrest for which I sent to London. You must help me to keep him here in Hong Kong–”
“I! But I–”
“I will share with you the two thousand pounds reward offered by the Bank of England.”
“Never!” replied Passepartout, who tried to rise, but fell back, exhausted in mind and body.
“Mr. Fix,” he stammered, “even should what you say be true–if my master is really the robber you are seeking for–which I deny–I have been, am, in his service; I have seen his generosity and goodness; and I will never betray him–not for all the gold in the world. I come from a village where they don’t eat that kind of bread!”
“Consider that I’ve said nothing,” said Fix; “and let us drink.”
“Yes; let us drink!”
Passepartout felt himself yielding more and more to the effects of the liquor. Fix, seeing that he must, at all hazards, be separated from his master, wished to entirely overcome him. Some pipes full of opium lay upon the table. Fix slipped one into Passepartout’s hand. He took it, put it between his lips, lit it, drew several puffs, and his head, becoming heavy under the influence of the narcotic, fell upon the table.
“At last!” said Fix, seeing Passepartout unconscious. “Mr. Fogg will not be informed of the Carnatic’s departure; and, if he is, he will have to go without this cursed Frenchman!”
And, after paying his bill, Fix left the tavern.