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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
The train moves on a northerly course for an hour and it is in this area that the trains face the maximum difficulties. The train passes many streams, while Passepartout’s impatience grows. During the night, there is heavy snow and Passepartout starts worrying. Meanwhile, Aouda had spotted Colonel Stamp Proctor on a station and was disturbed that Fogg might see him and get into an argument and fight. Aouda had begun to find Fogg very dear and her affection was growing.
Aouda tells Fix and Passepartout about Colonel Proctor’s presence on the train and they all agree that it would be best if Fogg were not to see the Colonel. Passepartout is surprised that Fix offers to fight with the Colonel on Fogg’s behalf. Later, in order to keep Fogg in the compartment itself, Fix offers to start a game of whist. Fogg, Fix and Aouda begin to play together. The game continues for long, while the train moves forward through new terrain. The group has lunch in the compartment. Suddenly the train stops and the others are worried that Fogg will get up and go down to see what the cause of the delay is. But he doesn’t get up and Passepartout goes to see what the problem is. The fact is that the train driver is told not to proceed ahead because a suspension bridge ahead, which is over rapids, is in a ruinous condition. There is a debate between the train personnel and the passengers as to what should be done. Finally, the group agrees that if the train is put on full speed, it would manage to get over the bridge. Passepartout suggests as this step is to be taken, the passengers should be told to get off and then the train should be put across the bridge at a fast pace. No one listens to him and the train speeds on to the bridge. Luckily nothing happens to the train and everybody is happy to get across safely. The bridge of course collapses and crashes into the rapids of Medicine Bow.
In this chapter the train’s onward journey is described. Verne must have had to research the details of the journeys undertaken by trains in America, to be able to write about them in such detail. This novel may be fictional but it is placed against the background of world’s reality. The places described are real and the travel routes outlined are those that truly existed.
Passepartout is described as being impatient. He is now involved mentally in the entire affair of the challenge to go around the world. While Fogg remains calm and does not express his desire for speed so openly, Passepartout expresses his worries and concerns frankly. He is loyal to his master and through every action of his we can gauge his goodness and humanity.
Aouda in the meanwhile had watched some passengers on the platform of Green River Station and to her horror she had spotted Colonel Stamp Proctor among them. She is genuinely concerned about Fogg and does not want Fogg to see the Colonel because then they would surely get into a bloody fight. Aouda now recognizes Fogg’s character and knows that his honor is very important to him and that he’ll do anything to defend it. So Aouda quietly expresses her concern to Fix and Passepartout. They decide to try and keep Fogg in the cabin as far as possible so that he has lesser chances of seeing the Colonel. Surprisingly Fix comes forward to defend Fogg’s honor by agreeing to fight with the Colonel instead of Fogg. He is told that Fogg would not accept proxy fighting and that is true. Passepartout questions Fix’s sudden good intention and Fix replies that he will do anything to speed Fogg’s journey to England. We all know why Fix wishes to hurry Fogg into England, the one and sole purpose being to arrest him and to win the reward money.
Fix and Aouda distract Fogg with a game of whist and they are successful in keeping him within a cabin. The fact that Aouda agrees to play whist for the sake of Fogg’s well being is charming. We see that she is Fogg’s equivalent in every way. She too plays whist well and is complimented by Fogg on it. Aouda is a typical idealized fictional female heroine.
The train stops suddenly and Passepartout goes out to see what the matter is. Verne succeeds in adding interest to his narrative by adding a number of quaint and invigorating incidents, which maintain the buoyancy of the story. In this chapter, the curious incident of a shaky bridge is added. The bridge over some rapids, a mile ahead is in a shaky condition. The train is in danger if it goes over it but the passengers are also impatient and want to get on with their journey. Finally the train driver makes an innovative suggestion. If the train is made to go over the bridge at full speed it might be able to get across and that is exactly what happens.
During the entire debate Passepartout makes a very sensible suggestion that the passengers could walk across the bridge, while the train could go over it at a fast speed. But, nobody pays heed to him. Passepartout is indeed the smart valet of an extremely efficient man-Fogg.
The train crosses Medicine Bow and all the passengers are safe. We now wait to see whether Fogg will bump into Proctor.