IN WHICH PHILEAS FOGG SIMPLY DOES HIS DUTY
Three passengers including Passepartout had disappeared. Had they been killed in the struggle? Were they taken prisoners by the Sioux? It was impossible to tell.
There were many wounded, but none mortally. Colonel Proctor was one of the most seriously hurt; he had fought bravely, and a ball had entered his groin. He was carried into the station with the other wounded passengers, to receive such attention as could be of avail.
Aouda was safe; and Phileas Fogg, who had been in the thickest of the fight, had not received a scratch. Fix was slightly wounded in the arm. But Passepartout was not to be found, and tears coursed down Aouda’s cheeks.
All the passengers had got out of the train, the wheels of which were stained with blood. From the tyres and spokes hung ragged pieces of flesh. As far as the eye could reach on the white plain behind, red trails were visible. The last Sioux were disappearing in the south, along the banks of Republican River.
Mr. Fogg, with folded arms, remained motionless. He had a serious decision to make. Aouda, standing near him, looked at him without speaking, and he understood her look. If his servant was a prisoner, ought he not to risk everything to rescue him from the Indians? “I will find him, living or dead,” said he quietly to Aouda.
“Ah, Mr.–Mr. Fogg!” cried she, clasping his hands and covering them with tears.
“Living,” added Mr. Fogg, “if we do not lose a moment.”
Phileas Fogg, by this resolution, inevitably sacrificed himself; he pronounced his own doom. The delay of a single day would make him lose the steamer at New York, and his bet would be certainly lost. But as he thought, “It is my duty,” he did not hesitate.
The commanding officer of Fort Kearney was there. A hundred of his soldiers had placed themselves in a position to defend the station, should the Sioux attack it.
“Sir,” said Mr. Fogg to the captain, “three passengers have disappeared.”
“Dead?” asked the captain.
“Dead or prisoners; that is the uncertainty which must be solved. Do you propose to pursue the Sioux?”
“That’s a serious thing to do, sir,” returned the captain. “These Indians may retreat beyond the Arkansas, and I cannot leave the fort unprotected.”
“The lives of three men are in question, sir,” said Phileas Fogg.
“Doubtless; but can I risk the lives of fifty men to save three?”
“I don’t know whether you can, sir; but you ought to do so.”
“Nobody here,” returned the other, “has a right to teach me my duty.”
“Very well,” said Mr. Fogg, coldly. “I will go alone.”
“You, sir!” cried Fix, coming up; “you go alone in pursuit of the Indians?”
“Would you have me leave this poor fellow to perish–him to whom every one present owes his life? I shall go.”