The 16th of December was the seventy-fifth day since Phileas Fogg’s departure from London, and the Henrietta had not yet been seriously delayed. Half of the voyage was almost accomplished, and the worst localities had been passed. In summer, success would have been well-nigh certain. In winter, they were at the mercy of the bad season. Passepartout said nothing; but he cherished hope in secret, and comforted himself with the reflection that, if the wind failed them, they might still count on the steam.
On this day the engineer came on deck, went up to Mr. Fogg, and began to speak earnestly with him. Without knowing why it was a presentiment, perhaps Passepartout became vaguely uneasy. He would have given one of his ears to hear with the other what the engineer was saying. He finally managed to catch a few words, and was sure he heard his master say, “You are certain of what you tell me?”
“Certain, sir,” replied the engineer. “You must remember that, since we started, we have kept up hot fires in all our furnaces, and, though we had coal enough to go on short steam from New York to Bordeaux, we haven’t enough to go with all steam from New York to Liverpool.” “I will consider,” replied Mr. Fogg.
Passepartout understood it all; he was seized with mortal anxiety. The coal was giving out! “Ah, if my master can get over that,” muttered he, “he’ll be a famous man!” He could not help imparting to Fix what he had overheard.
“Then you believe that we really are going to Liverpool?”
“Ass!” replied the detective, shrugging his shoulders and turning on his heel.
Passepartout was on the point of vigorously resenting the epithet, the reason of which he could not for the life of him comprehend; but he reflected that the unfortunate Fix was probably very much disappointed and humiliated in his self-esteem, after having so awkwardly followed a false scent around the world, and refrained.
And now what course would Phileas Fogg adopt? It was difficult to imagine. Nevertheless he seemed to have decided upon one, for that evening he sent for the engineer, and said to him, “Feed all the fires until the coal is exhausted.”
A few moments after, the funnel of the Henrietta vomited forth torrents of smoke. The vessel continued to proceed with all steam on; but on the 18th, the engineer, as he had predicted, announced that the coal would give out in the course of the day.
“Do not let the fires go down,” replied Mr. Fogg. “Keep them up to the last. Let the valves be filled.”
Towards noon Phileas Fogg, having ascertained their position, called Passepartout, and ordered him to go for Captain Speedy. It was as if the honest fellow had been commanded to unchain a tiger. He went to the poop, saying to himself, “He will be like a madman!”
In a few moments, with cries and oaths, a bomb appeared on the poop-deck. The bomb was Captain Speedy. It was clear that he was on the point of bursting. “Where are we?” were the first words his anger permitted him to utter. Had the poor man be an apoplectic, he could never have recovered from his paroxysm of wrath.
“Where are we?” he repeated, with purple face.
“Seven hundred and seven miles from Liverpool,” replied Mr. Fogg, with imperturbable calmness.
“Pirate!” cried Captain Speedy.
“I have sent for you, sir–”