فصل 06

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فصل 06

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CHAPTER SIX

When our friends risk their lives

25 November

They were now sailing across the Pacific on the Carnatic in the direction of San Francisco.

On the journey Passepartout started to remember more details about his evening with Mr Fix and he began to ask questions.

Why did the man try and keep him in the bar for so long? Why was he doing the exact same journey as them? It wasn’t an unusual route, but why did he also want to do it so quickly? Was he following them?

‘I’m going for a walk. I believe Mrs Aouda will join me. I’ll see you in the morning at seven-fifteen,’ said Phileas Fogg, interrupting his manservant’s thoughts. His master certainly did not look worried and Passepartout decided that he had to think about just one thing: his master had to win his bet.

In the next few days it became clear that Mrs Aouda was very close to Phileas Fogg. He, on the other hand, did not seem to notice the beautiful lady by his side.

When they arrived in San Francisco he made a note in his diary:

Tuesday - 2 hours ahead. Wednesday - 3 hours behind.

Thursday - arrived in San Francisco on time.

The same evening, at exactly six o’clock, our adventurers left San Francisco to travel to New York. The journey that once took six months to complete, now took seven days on the new Union Pacific Railroad that took the passengers from San Francisco in the west, to Omaha in the central state of Nebraska. From there Phileas Fogg hoped to continue to New York for the final part of their journey: crossing the Atlantic to England on 11 December.

On the train Passepartout sat next to Inspector Fix, but he did not want to talk to him. He was still confused by his behaviour in the bar and he did not like him.

After just one hour it started to snow. Fortunately the snow did not slow down the train. However, about nine o’clock the next morning, the train stopped. To their amazement it was not because of the snow but because hundreds of buffalos were crossing the tracks in front of the train.

Passepartout became very impatient. ‘I can’t believe this!’ he shouted. ‘This country has a modern railway and the train must stop for a group of animals!’ ‘ The train driver told them he had no choice. The buffalos were not moving and they could damage the engine. They had to wait until the buffalos moved across the tracks - three hours later!

As they went through the mountains in Wyoming, Phileas Fogg taught Mrs Aouda how to play cards. Mrs Aouda was a very patient learner, and they were soon so occupied with their games that they did not even seem to notice the deep ravines below them.

Passepartout was looking out of the window, thinking about the bet, when he almost hit the seat in front of him. The train stopped suddenly and gave several loud whistles. He got up to see what the problem was. He saw the driver talking to a man from the next station, a place called Medicine Bow.

‘The station guard sent me to tell you that you can’t go any further,’ he said. ‘The bridge across the ravine is not safe and it can’t take the weight of the train. We have sent a telegram to Omaha, but it will be six hours before another train arrives.’

‘We can’t stay here all night. We’ll die of cold in this snow!’ shouted one of the passengers, hearing their conversation.

‘Yes, but it will take six hours to go on foot to the next station,’ said the train driver’s assistant.

‘I think I have an idea,’ said the train driver. ‘We can get our train across the bridge, if we go fast enough.’

Passepartout was interested to hear more.

‘If the train moves at its top speed, the train won’t be as heavy on the bridge,’ he continued. ‘And we can get across before the bridge breaks.’

Passepartout was worried for himself and the other passengers. The bridge could break before the train reached the other side! He could not understand why the other passengers seemed to think this was a good idea.

‘Isn’t there a simpler solution, perhaps…?’ he began to ask the driver.

The driver was not listening. ‘No, no, this is the best solution we have,’ he said.

‘Yes, but maybe not the safest…’

Passepartout tried to explain that he had another idea.

‘Maybe the passengers can go across the bridge on foot. Then the train could follow afterwards,’ he said to the train driver’s assistant.

‘No, the driver is right. If we go at top speed, we can get across the bridge. The train’s leaving!’ cried his assistant.

The train driver blew the whistle and the train went back along the tracks about two kilometres. Then he blew the whistle again. The train moved faster and faster as it came closer to the bridge. In what seemed like minutes, or maybe it was only a few seconds, they were over on the other side, just in time to see the bridge fall into the deep ravine behind them.

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