He sat several minutes without speaking; then, bending his eyes on Aouda, “Madam,” said he, “will you pardon me for bringing you to England?”
“I, Mr. Fogg!” replied Aouda, checking the pulsations of her heart.
“Please let me finish,” returned Mr. Fogg. “When I decided to bring you far away from the country which was so unsafe for you, I was rich, and counted on putting a portion of my fortune at your disposal; then your existence would have been free and happy. But now I am ruined.”
“I know it, Mr. Fogg,” replied Aouda; “and I ask you in my turn, will you forgive me for having followed you, and–who knows?–for having, perhaps, delayed you, and thus contributed to your ruin?”
“Madam, you could not remain in India, and your safety could only be assured by bringing you to such a distance that your persecutors could not take you.”
“So, Mr. Fogg,” resumed Aouda, “not content with rescuing me from a terrible death, you thought yourself bound to secure my comfort in a foreign land?”
“Yes, madam; but circumstances have been against me. Still, I beg to place the little I have left at your service.”
“But what will become of you, Mr. Fogg?”
“As for me, madam,” replied the gentleman, coldly, “I have need of nothing.”
“But how do you look upon the fate, sir, which awaits you?”
“As I am in the habit of doing.”
“At least,” said Aouda, “want should not overtake a man like you. Your friends–”
“I have no friends, madam.”
“I have no longer any relatives.”
“I pity you, then, Mr. Fogg, for solitude is a sad thing, with no heart to which to confide your griefs. They say, though, that misery itself, shared by two sympathetic souls, may be borne with patience.”
“They say so, madam.”
“Mr. Fogg,” said Aouda, rising and seizing his hand, “do you wish at once a kinswoman and friend? Will you have me for your wife?”
Mr. Fogg, at this, rose in his turn. There was an unwonted light in his eyes, and a slight trembling of his lips. Aouda looked into his face. The sincerity, rectitude, firmness, and sweetness of this soft glance of a noble woman, who could dare all to save him to whom she owed all, at first astonished, then penetrated him. He shut his eyes for an instant, as if to avoid her look. When he opened them again, “I love you!” he said, simply. “Yes, by all that is holiest, I love you, and I am entirely yours!”
“Ah!” cried Aouda, pressing his hand to her heart.
Passepartout was summoned and appeared immediately. Mr. Fogg still held Aouda’s hand in his own; Passepartout understood, and his big, round face became as radiant as the tropical sun at its zenith.
Mr. Fogg asked him if it was not too late to notify the Reverend Samuel Wilson, of Marylebone parish, that evening.
Passepartout smiled his most genial smile, and said, “Never too late.”
It was five minutes past eight.
“Will it be for to-morrow, Monday?”
“For to-morrow, Monday,” said Mr. Fogg, turning to Aouda.
“Yes; for to-morrow, Monday,” she replied.
Passepartout hurried off as fast as his legs could carry him.