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Free Study Guide-Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne-Free Synopsis
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 12

Summary

In order to shorten the journey, the guide passed to the left of the railway line, which was still in process of being built. The Parsee declared that they would gain twenty miles by striking directly through the forest. The swift trotting of the elephant horribly jostled Phileas Fogg and Sir Francis Cromarty. After two hours the guide stopped the elephant, and gave him an hour for rest. At noon, the Parsee gave the signal of departure. The country soon presented a very savage aspect.

Verne writes a little about the area that they were passing through - All this portion of Bundelcund, is inhabited by a fanatical population, hardened in the most horrible practices of the Hindoo faith. The English have not been able to secure complete dominion over this territory, which is subject to the influence of rajahs, who are almost impossible to reach in their inaccessible mountain hideouts. The elephant is made to hurry away each time the mahout sees a band of people.

Some thoughts troubled the worthy servant - Passepartout - What would Mr. Fogg do with the elephant when he got to Allahabad? As he deliberated on such issues, the principal chain of the Vindhias was crossed by eight in the evening, and another halt was made on the northern slope, in a ruined bungalow. They had gone nearly twenty-five miles that day, and an equal distance still separated them from the station of Allahabad.

The group stops for the night. Nothing occurred during the night to disturb the slumberers, although occasional growls of panthers and chattering of monkeys broke the silence. The journey was resumed at six in the morning. Kiouni soon descended the lower spurs of the Vindhias, and towards noon they passed by the village of Kallenger, on the Cani, one of the branches of the Ganges. Allahabad was now only twelve miles away. They stopped under a clump of bananas. Then they entered a thick forest. They had not as yet had any unpleasant encounters, and the journey seemed on the point of being successfully accomplished, when the elephant suddenly stopped.

They heard a confused murmur, which came through the thick branches. Passepartout was all eyes and ears. Mr. Fogg waited patiently without a word. The Parsee went to find out where the sounds came from. He soon returned, saying: "A procession of Brahmins is coming this way. We must prevent their seeing us, if possible." The guide unloosed the elephant and led him into a thicket, at the same time asking the travelers not to stir. He hoped that the procession would pass without having noticed them.


The discordant tones of the voices and instruments drew nearer. The head of the procession soon appeared beneath the trees and here Verne describes the nature of the procession. Sir Francis Cromarty points out that the procession was that of goddess Kali. A group of old fakirs were making a wild ado round the statue; these were striped with ochre, and covered with cuts whence their blood issued drop by drop. Some Brahmins were leading a woman who faltered at every step. This woman was young, and as fair as a European. The procession also included the body of a dead man. Sir Francis watched the procession with a sad countenance, and, turning to the guide, said, "A suttee." Fogg had heard what Sir Francis said, and, as soon as the procession had disappeared, asked: "What is a suttee?" The general explained that a suttee is a human sacrifice, but a voluntary one. Passepartout is enraged by such an act. Fogg wonders aloud how come the British have not put an end to such practices. It is explained to him that areas such as this are out of the control of the British authorities. While Sir Francis was speaking, the guide shook his head several times, and now said: "The sacrifice which will take place tomorrow at dawn is not a voluntary one." He then goes on to talk about what he terms - the Bundelcund affair. He tells the others that this lady was being forced to commit suttee and that she had been doped on opium.

The guide now led the elephant out of the thicket. Just at the moment that he was about to urge Kiouni forward, Mr. Fogg stopped him, and, turning to Sir Francis Cromarty, said, "Suppose we save this woman." Sir Francis is surprised and Fogg explains that he has twelve hours to spare and that they can devote that time to try and save her.

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