with a crash...
train, on leaving Great Salt Lake at Ogden, passed northward for an
hour as far as Weber River, having completed nearly nine hundred miles
from San Francisco. From this point it took an easterly direction towards
the jagged Wahsatch Mountains. It was in the section included between this
range and the Rocky Mountains that the American engineers found the most
formidable difficulties in laying the road, and that the government granted
a subsidy of forty-eight thousand dollars per mile, instead of sixteen
thousand allowed for the work done on the plains. But the engineers, instead
of violating nature, avoided its difficulties by winding around, instead
of penetrating the rocks. One tunnel only, fourteen thousand feet in length,
was pierced in order to arrive at the great basin.
up to this time had reached its highest elevation at the Great Salt Lake.
From this point it described a long curve, descending towards Bitter Creek
Valley, to rise again to the dividing ridge of the waters between the Atlantic
and the Pacific. There were many creeks in this mountainous region, and
it was necessary to cross Muddy Creek, Green Creek, and others, upon culverts.
grew more and more impatient as they went on, while Fix longed to get out
of this difficult region, and was more anxious than Phileas Fogg himself
to be beyond the danger of delays and accidents, and set foot on English
o'clock at night the train stopped at Fort Bridger station, and twenty
minutes later entered Wyoming Territory, following the valley of Bitter
Creek throughout. The next day, 7th December, they stopped for a quarter
of an hour at Green River station. Snow had fallen abundantly during the
night, but, being mixed with rain, it had half melted, and did not interrupt
their progress. The bad weather, however, annoyed Passepartout; for the
accumulation of snow, by blocking the wheels of the cars, would certainly
have been fatal to Mr. Fogg's tour.
an idea!" he said to himself. "Why did my master make this journey in winter?
Couldn't he have waited for the good season to increase his chances?"
the worthy Frenchman was absorbed in the state of the sky and the depression
of the temperature, Aouda was experiencing fears from a totally different
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.
seized a moment when Mr. Fogg was asleep to tell Fix and Passepartout whom
she had seen.
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."
besides," added Passepartout, "I'll take charge of him, colonel as he is."
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."
right, madam," replied Fix; "a meeting between them might ruin all. Whether
he were victorious or beaten, Mr. Fogg would be delayed, 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."
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?"
do anything," replied Fix, in a tone which betrayed determined will, "to
get him back living to Europe!"
felt something like a shudder shoot through his frame, but his confidence
in his master remained unbroken.
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."
replied Mr. Fogg; "but they pass."
in the habit of playing whist," resumed Fix, "on the steamers."
but it would be difficult to do so here. I have neither cards nor partners."
we can easily buy some cards, for they are sold on all the American trains.
And as for partners, if madam plays—"
sir," Aouda quickly replied; "I understand whist. It is part of an English
have some pretensions to playing a good game. Well, here are three of us,
and a dummy—"
please, sir," replied Phileas Fogg, heartily glad to resume his favourite
pastime even on the railway.
was dispatched in search of the steward, and soon returned with two packs
of cards, some pins, counters, and a shelf covered with cloth.
commenced. Aouda understood whist sufficiently well, and even received
some compliments on her playing from Mr. Fogg. As for the detective, he
was simply an adept, and worthy of being matched against his present opponent.
thought Passepartout, "we've got him. He won't budge."
in the morning the train had reached the dividing ridge of the waters at
Bridger Pass, seven thousand five hundred and twenty-four feet above the
level of the sea, one of the highest points attained by the track in crossing
the Rocky Mountains. After going about two hundred miles, the travellers
at last found themselves on one of those vast plains which extend to the
Atlantic, and which nature has made so propitious for laying the iron road.
declivity of the Atlantic basin the first streams, branches of the North
Platte River, already appeared. The whole northern and eastern horizon
was bounded by the immense semi-circular curtain which is formed by the
southern portion of the Rocky Mountains, the highest being Laramie Peak.
Between this and the railway extended vast plains, plentifully irrigated.
On the right rose the lower spurs of the mountainous mass which extends
southward to the sources of the Arkansas River, one of the great tributaries
of the Missouri.
twelve the travellers caught sight for an instant of Fort Halleck, which
commands that section; and in a few more hours the Rocky Mountains were
crossed. There was reason to hope, then, that no accident would mark the
journey through this difficult country. The snow had ceased falling, and
the air became crisp and cold. Large birds, frightened by the locomotive,
rose and flew off in the distance. No wild beast appeared on the plain.
It was a desert in its vast nakedness.
a comfortable breakfast, served in the car, Mr. Fogg and his partners had
just resumed whist, when a violent whistling was heard, and the train stopped.
Passepartout put his head out of the door, but saw nothing to cause the
delay; no station was in view.
and Fix feared that Mr. Fogg might take it into his head to get out; but
that gentleman contented himself with saying to his servant, "See what
is the matter."
rushed out of the car. Thirty or forty passengers had already descended,
amongst them Colonel Stamp Proctor.
had stopped before a red signal which blocked the way. The engineer and
conductor were talking excitedly with a signal-man, whom the station-master
at Medicine Bow, the next stopping place, had sent on before. The passengers
drew around and took part in the discussion, in which Colonel Proctor,
with his insolent manner, was conspicuous.
joining the group, heard the signal-man say, "No! you can't pass. The bridge
at Medicine Bow is shaky, and would not bear the weight of the train."
a suspension-bridge thrown over some rapids, about a mile from the place
where they now were. According to the signal-man, it was in a ruinous condition,
several of the iron wires being broken; and it was impossible to risk the
passage. He did not in any way exaggerate the condition of the bridge.
It may be taken for granted that, rash as the Americans usually are, when
they are prudent there is good reason for it.
not daring to apprise his master of what he heard, listened with set teeth,
immovable as a statue.
cried Colonel Proctor; "but we are not going to stay here, I imagine, and
take root in the snow?"
replied the conductor, "we have telegraphed to Omaha for a train, but it
is not likely that it will reach Medicine Bow is less than six hours."
returned the conductor, "besides, it will take us as long as that to reach
Medicine Bow on foot."
is only a mile from here," said one of the passengers.
but it's on the other side of the river."
we cross that in a boat?" asked the colonel.
impossible. The creek is swelled by the rains. It is a rapid, and we shall
have to make a circuit of ten miles to the north to find a ford."
launched a volley of oaths, denouncing the railway company and the conductor;
and Passepartout, who was furious, was not disinclined to make common cause
with him. Here was an obstacle, indeed, which all his master's banknotes
could not remove.
was a general disappointment among the passengers, who, without reckoning
the delay, saw themselves compelled to trudge fifteen miles over a plain
covered with snow. They grumbled and protested, and would certainly have
thus attracted Phileas Fogg's attention if he had not been completely absorbed
in his game.
found that he could not avoid telling his master what had occurred, and,
with hanging head, he was turning towards the car, when the engineer, a
true Yankee, named Forster called out, "Gentlemen, perhaps there is a way,
after all, to get over."
bridge?" asked a passenger.
stopped short, and eagerly listened to the engineer.
bridge is unsafe," urged the conductor.
replied Forster; "I think that by putting on the very highest speed we
might have a chance of getting over."
number of the passengers were at once attracted by the engineer's proposal,
and Colonel Proctor was especially delighted, and found the plan a very
feasible one. He told stories about engineers leaping their trains over
rivers without bridges, by putting on full steam; and many of those present
avowed themselves of the engineer's mind.
fifty chances out of a hundred of getting over," said one.
was astounded, and, though ready to attempt anything to get over Medicine
Creek, thought the experiment proposed a little too American. "Besides,"
thought he, "there's a still more simple way, and it does not even occur
to any of these people! Sir," said he aloud to one of the passengers, "the
engineer's plan seems to me a little dangerous, but—"
chances!" replied the passenger, turning his back on him.
it," said Passepartout, turning to another passenger, "but a simple idea—"
are no use," returned the American, shrugging his shoulders, "as the engineer
assures us that we can pass."
urged Passepartout, "we can pass, but perhaps it would be more prudent—"
Prudent!" cried Colonel Proctor, whom this word seemed to excite prodigiously.
"At full speed, don't you see, at full speed!"
see," repeated Passepartout; "but it would be, if not more prudent, since
that word displeases you, at least more natural—"
What! What's the matter with this fellow?" cried several.
fellow did not know to whom to address himself.
afraid?" asked Colonel Proctor.
Very well; I will show these people that a Frenchman can be as American
cried the conductor.
all aboard!" repeated Passepartout, and immediately. "But they can't prevent
me from thinking that it would be more natural for us to cross the bridge
on foot, and let the train come after!"
one heard this sage reflection, nor would anyone have acknowledged its
justice. The passengers resumed their places in the cars. Passepartout
took his seat without telling what had passed. The whist-players were quite
absorbed in their game.
whistled vigorously; the engineer, reversing the steam, backed the train
for nearly a mile—retiring, like a jumper, in order to take a longer leap.
Then, with another whistle, he began to move forward; the train increased
its speed, and soon its rapidity became frightful; a prolonged screech
issued from the locomotive; the piston worked up and down twenty strokes
to the second. They perceived that the whole train, rushing on at the rate
of a hundred miles an hour, hardly bore upon the rails at all.
passed over! It was like a flash. No one saw the bridge. The train leaped,
so to speak, from one bank to the other, and the engineer could not stop
it until it had gone five miles beyond the station. But scarcely had the
train passed the river, when the bridge, completely ruined, fell with a
crash into the rapids of Medicine Bow.