Several passengers had got off at Green River, and were walking up and down the platforms; and among these Aouda recognised Colonel Stamp Proctor, the same who had so grossly insulted Phileas Fogg at the San Francisco meeting. Not wishing to be recognised, the young woman drew back from the window, feeling much alarm at her discovery. She was attached to the man who, however coldly, gave her daily evidences of the most absolute devotion. She did not comprehend, perhaps, the depth of the sentiment with which her protector inspired her, which she called gratitude, but which, though she was unconscious of it, was really more than that. Her heart sank within her when she recognised the man whom Mr. Fogg desired, sooner or later, to call to account for his conduct. Chance alone, it was clear, had brought Colonel Proctor on this train; but there he was, and it was necessary, at all hazards, that Phileas Fogg should not perceive his adversary.
Aouda seized a moment when Mr. Fogg was asleep to tell Fix and Passepartout whom she had seen.
“That Proctor on this train!” cried Fix. “Well, reassure yourself, madam; before he settles with Mr. Fogg; he has got to deal with me! It seems to me that I was the more insulted of the two.”
“And, besides,” added Passepartout, “I’ll take charge of him, colonel as he is.”
“Mr. Fix,” resumed Aouda, “Mr. Fogg will allow no one to avenge him. He said that he would come back to America to find this man. Should he perceive Colonel Proctor, we could not prevent a collision which might have terrible results. He must not see him.”
“You are right, madam,” replied Fix; “a meeting between them might ruin all. Whether he were victorious or beaten, Mr. Fogg would be delayed, and–”
“And,” added Passepartout, “that would play the game of the gentlemen of the Reform Club. In four days we shall be in New York. Well, if my master does not leave this car during those four days, we may hope that chance will not bring him face to face with this confounded American. We must, if possible, prevent his stirring out of it.”
The conversation dropped. Mr. Fogg had just woke up, and was looking out of the window. Soon after Passepartout, without being heard by his master or Aouda, whispered to the detective, “Would you really fight for him?”
“I would do anything,” replied Fix, in a tone which betrayed determined will, “to get him back living to Europe!”
Passepartout felt something like a shudder shoot through his frame, but his confidence in his master remained unbroken.
Was there any means of detaining Mr. Fogg in the car, to avoid a meeting between him and the colonel? It ought not to be a difficult task, since that gentleman was naturally sedentary and little curious. The detective, at least, seemed to have found a way; for, after a few moments, he said to Mr. Fogg, “These are long and slow hours, sir, that we are passing on the railway.”
“Yes,” replied Mr. Fogg; “but they pass.”
“You were in the habit of playing whist,” resumed Fix, “on the steamers.”
“Yes; but it would be difficult to do so here. I have neither cards nor partners.”
“Oh, but we can easily buy some cards, for they are sold on all the American trains. And as for partners, if madam plays–”
“Certainly, sir,” Aouda quickly replied; “I understand whist. It is part of an English education.”
“I myself have some pretensions to playing a good game. Well, here are three of us, and a dummy–”
“As you please, sir,” replied Phileas Fogg, heartily glad to resume his favourite pastime even on the railway.
Passepartout was dispatched in search of the steward, and soon returned with two packs of cards, some pins, counters, and a shelf covered with cloth.