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Re: The Dutiful Butler : Jules Verne meets Physical Culture
Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 10:22 am
Hi Harry, only kidding. Then of course i am what you call a senior citizen these days. I am planning an article on the Martial Art of Sherlock Holmes, which by the way uses the cane as a manner of self defense.Keep on with the great story telling.
Re: The Dutiful Butler : Jules Verne meets Physical Culture
Posted: Tue Oct 16, 2018 11:57 am
Chapter Six: In where the Egyptian nation provides a curse, a gift and two new arrivals
It was October 9th 1872 and exactly on schedule, a week after leaving London, the Mongolia started its progress down the Suez Canal in Egypt. As Passepartout stood at the bow of the ship, he gazed in wonder at the sights passing him. He was so awed with it that he failed to spot his master arriving next to him as he asked “And, of course, you know who we have to thank for this marvel don’t you?”
“Oui, monsieur” the manservant beamed, “M. Lesseps” and with that he stood to attention and saluted the Frenchman who had designed the canal.
“The time he has saved by the construction of canal is, well, it’s remarkable” said Mr. Fogg, “just three years ago, it would have been impossible to even attempt this journey. Prior to this we would have to sailed all around Africa, past the Cape of Good Hope and then up the other side but now thanks to this we slip through from the Mediterranean into the Red Sea and before you know where you are, we’re in Bombay!”
“Bombay?” said Passepartout, “as in India?”
“That’s right” replied Mr. Fogg, “but don’t worry, we’ll deal with that when we get there. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I fancy a game of whist. If you need me, I’ll be in the saloon” and with that he bowed and left the deck leaving Passepartout to resume his wondrous gaze. He gazed at camels being led through the desert, small villages on either side of the canal where he sometimes spied children and saw to entertain them by rushing from side to side and playing hide and seek with them and occasionally even glanced a chance sighting of herons on the canal. All the while, the sailors on board toted the sails and climbed the rigging and on more than one occasion, Passepartout thought that he fancied a go at demonstrating his skills in climbing but then decided against it in case he upset some of the crew who looked even bigger than the ruffians in Brindisi.
Eventually, the ship sailed into the harbour in Suez and at the captain’s command of “Lower the anchor”, the anchor started to lower down into the water. However, as Passepartout watched, the anchor snapped and fell into the water, leaving a long amount of chain dangling over the side. The crew’s reaction was one of sheer panic and as Passepartout went to inform his master, he spied one of the crew informing everyone within earshot of the disaster and asking them not to be concerned slip on the decking and land on his bottom before recovering. As he knocked on his master’s door, he entered and announced “The anchor has fallen into the ocean, Monsieur!”
“Mmm” he said, as he adjusted his tie having changed into his walking clothes, “I think we shall have to see what the captain says about that!”
The captain of the Mongolia was a stout man, both in terms of manner and size, and explained quietly that not only did the anchor needed to be repaired but other damages as well that needed to be sorted and that as a result, the sailing from Suez to Bombay would be delayed until the following morning. If Mr. Fogg seemed concerned by the delay, he did not show it and simply nodded every so often. Passepartout on the other hand was panic stricken by the news of a delay and tried to impress upon the captain the urgency needed but Mr. Fogg apologised for his manservant’s rush and reassured him that everything would work out in the end before bowing to the Captain and said “And now, off to the consul to have our passports stamped!”
“Good morning” smiled Mr. Fogg as the consul entered the main reception of the consulate in Suez, “My name is Phileas Fogg, resident in Savile Row, London and an English national and this is Mr. Jean Passepartout who is a French national, we’d like to have proof of passage through Suez!”
“And good morning to you too, sirs” replied the consul and placed a friendly hand over the counter, “Sir Bartholomew Bottomley at your service!” and with that shook both their hands and added “Actually, I was hoping that you might come and visit, gives me a chance to show up the old natives, eh?”
Mr. Fogg chuckled as he handed over the passports and the consul examined them closely. As he nodded and stamped them he said “Of course, you do realise that you don’t need to have your passport stamped, but to be honest, I would have stamped them anyway!”
As he was about to hand back the documents, there was a polite cough behind them and as Mr. Fogg and Passepartout turned around, they spied an old man carrying a very large container. Stepping to one side to allow the man to place the container on the table, the man thanked them and addressed the consul.
“Sir Bottomley, I have been led to believe that you are a collector of antiques. Therefore, I would like to sell you this for fifty Egyptian pounds” and with that he pulled out a golden vase that took Mr. Fogg’s and Passepartout’s breath away.
“By Jove” exclaimed the consul, “Fifty pounds you say?”
“Forgive me for asking” said Mr. Fogg, “but that’s a vase from the seventh century. Persian I should imagine. Why on earth are you selling it?”
But before Mr. Fogg got an answer, the man grabbed the documents off the table and ran towards the door. Mr. Fogg instinctively grabbed his cane and tried to trip the man up but demonstrating speed and agility that belied his age, the man jumped into the air and somersaulted and sprinted out of the door so that the only thing the cane made contact with was the vase which fell to the ground and broke into a hundred pieces.
“Well don’t just stand there!” bellowed Mr. Fogg, “after the blighter!” and with that Passepartout nodded and gave chase closely followed by his master. However, as they rushed outside they found the thief escaping on a camel. Looking around, Mr. Fogg said “Ah-ha!” and with that jumped onto another camel and set off shouting “Pay the fellow, there’s a good man!”
Opening the bag and sorting through the myriad of notes, he grabbed some Egyptian pounds and threw them at the owner who snorted awake, then as he jumped onto another he showered the owner with some more saying “Payment for my master and me!” and with that geed his camel to follow in his master’s footsteps.
Half an hour later, Mr. Fogg and Passepartout found the camel that had provided the getaway for the thief. It was lying down on all fours outside a ruined temple. As Mr. Fogg woahed his camel, he smiled saying “That will teach the blackguard!” and as Passepartout woahed his he added “Camels are very dictatorial creatures. Once they stop wanting to go somewhere they stop!” and with that started to search the creature but came up blank and said “Looks like we’ll have to find him in there!” and pointed to the temple.
“Monsieur” said Passepartout, “I’m scared. What if there’s a…a…. a ghost in there?”
“You don’t expect me to believe in ghosts surely?” said Mr. Fogg, “Ghosts are nothing but nonsense made up by those so called psychics to depart fools from their money!” and with that he advanced into the temple adding “Although I will say this, whoever this blackguard is, he has a taste for history. Clearly this is Roman in design and then was then used by some Egyptian sect or cult” and as he wandered off he said “I’ll go this way, you go that way” and with that headed off saying under his breath “Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating!” and turned a corner disappearing from view.
As Passepartout walked through the temple looking for the thief, he couldn’t help but feel there was someone watching him. The temple was full of ruins and he half expected a ghost around every corner. As he turned a corner, he screamed in horror, before realising that it was only a statue. Slapping himself across the face he said “Control yourself, you’re a brave acrobat. You have faced fears that other men can only dream about” to which his inner voice retorted, “Oui, but you try telling a ghost that!”
As he continued to walk through the temple, he thought he saw something and looked down to see a towering shadow from behind him. Leaping onto the nearest statue, he held on for dear life his teeth chattering and murmuring “Please, please don’t hurt me!” before suddenly realising that it was his own shadow being lengthened by the now setting sun. Climbing down from the statue, he breathed a sigh of relief which lasted all of thirty seconds.
“Who is the infidel who has dared to commit sacrilege in my temple?” boomed a voice behind him.
Passepartout’s heart pounded in his chest and although every single fibre of his being told him not to turn around, he did and nearly had a heart attack as there standing in front of him was…
“A GHOST!” he screamed
“No one has ever entered this temple and lived to tell the tale” moaned the spirit as it floated in front of him cackling malevolently. As Passepartout stood there, quaking in his shoes, two documents appeared before him. His and his master’s passports.
“Are you looking for these?” asked the spirit as it advanced menacingly towards the manservant, adding “I took these from the last man to enter here and now he is NO MORE!” his last words booming.
“Please…Please…Please” stammered Passepartout, “I…I…I…. I meant no harm. We need those passports to….!”
“SILENCE!” boomed the spirit, “If you want these items then come and get them” and with that the spirit advanced again, “or are you too scared to fight for your precious master?”
Passepartout tried to run away but found himself frozen in fear. His heart was hammering, he was breathing hard and he didn’t know how much more of this torture he could take. His mind was telling him that this spirit had their passports, documents vital to the success of their journey and that he was one of the strongest men in the world. His heart however was screaming “Flee, save yourself, forget your master!”
“So, you accept your fate!” boomed the spirit, “then it shall be so!” and with that advanced on the poor manservant who curled up into a ball and cried “MASTER FOGG, FORGIVE ME!”
“Good afternoon, can I be of assistance?”
The sudden interruption by a Germanic sounding voice took the spirit by surprise and as he turned around, he spied a man dressed in clothing suitable for the climate.
“What?” asked the spirit as he looked in disbelief at the new arrival.
“Or may I be of assistance?” added another Germanic voice
The spirit turned around again and in front of him stood an almost identical copy of the first person.
Unable to believe what was happening, the spirit started to shake uncontrollably and as the two men advanced, the spirit backed away. As it did, part of its spectral haze caught on a rock and as it pulled, it was pulled away to reveal…
“YOU!” shouted Passepartout, his sanity restored by the fact that the spirit was not a spirit but the man who he had seen dangling from the tree in Paris. He jumped to his feet and launched himself at the attacker but the attacker was too fast but in the confusion he dropped the passports before running out of that temple so fast he looked like a blur. As Passepartout picked up the passports, he roared “I WILL FIND YOU, ASSASSIN!” and then turned to thank his rescuers.
They looked like peas in a pod and introduced themselves as Professors Frick and Frack of the National Germanic Expedition operating out of Berlin University. Passepartout introduced himself and said that his master was somewhere else in the temple. No sooner had he mentioned his name than he casually walked around a corner saying “My word, these carvings are so detailed” and then noticing the two gentlemen he doffed his hat and apologised saying “I’ve been having a little history lesson thanks to these carvings”.
“Herr Fogg?” asked Professor Frick
“Yes!” came the reply
“Of the Reform Club, London?” asked Professor Frack
“The same” Mr. Fogg replied
“My dear sir!” they exclaimed in unison and shook him by the hands leaving Passepartout scratching his head. Placing a friendly arm about his shoulders they explained that a decade previously they had attended a meeting at the Reform Club seeking funding for the expedition and that although Mr. Fogg hadn’t been able to attend due to a prior engagement, his apology letter was so full of historical knowledge they hoped that one day they would be able to meet the man with knowledge beyond their own.
“And” as Professor Frick said as they reached the camp, “who else would be wandering around a temple in the middle of the Egyptian desert?”
Mr. Fogg smiled as he entered the tent with Passepartout entering afterwards and as they did their eyes lit up. They had entered a tent that was more like a museum as there were historical artefacts over all the place. There were stone tablets with ancient writing on them, statues of gods and deities, bottles, jars and other pieces of pottery. Passepartout looked at them with wonder commenting on their beauty. Mr. Fogg, however, got straight down to business.
“I say” he said as he spied a piece of clay with scratches on it, “Cuneiform writing. Can’t remember the last time I actually saw this in the flesh, so to speak. By its looks, written in the sixth century BC?”
The two professors looked at each other and then at Mr. Fogg and cheered “Wunderbar!” in unison as Mr. Fogg has not only correctly identified the type of writing but when it was written as well. “Truly” said Professor Frick, “you have missed your true calling!”
As Passepartout looked up, he felt sure that his master went a little red in the face and went over to him as Professor Frack unwrapped something in a cloth and as he did he said “This is our biggest find to date, Herr Fogg” and presented…
“A golden scarab” gasped Mr. Fogg and seeking permission to handle it added “To think, the last person to hold this before it was buried in the sand was a member of the religious leaders of Pharaoh Ptolemy!” and then asked “Twenty carat gold?”
“Twenty-Four carat gold!” replied Professor Frack, “we believe sourced from your part of the world, Wales to be precise!”
Mr. Fogg looked up and said “Wales? But that would mean…?”
Both professors nodded with Frick saying “Wales was not the barbarian society that the Romans wrote about, but a fully industrialised nation with an import and export economy”
As Mr. Fogg handed the scarab back, Passepartout noticed a ring like object next to where the clay tablet had been and picked it up. He tried to discern its use but gave up and asked the professors what it was.
“It is a sun clock” replied Professor Frack, “made in the first century AD and yet, still highly accurate. Would you like a demonstration?”
Passepartout nodded and so the four of them went outside where the sun was just starting to set in the western sky. Professor Frack held it whilst his brother explained its workings.
“Although it was made in the first century” he explained, “the original markings have been worn away but over the two years that we have been here we have been able to calibrate it to the modern calendar. Today is October 9th, so we move the hole to the section marked O for October” and as Professor Frack moved the hole to the correct section, he held it up to the sun and a beam of light hit a number five on the inside of the dial allowing Professor Frick to announce “Five o’clock in the afternoon” and then looked to Mr. Fogg who took his pocket watch out and gasped “Five o’clock in the afternoon” and then “It’s a miracle, technology that old keeping up with modern science!”
“Would you like it Herr Fogg?” asked Professor Frack
“Me?” exclaimed Mr. Fogg, “Oh, no, I couldn’t really. Not a historical artifact of that age!”
“Please” said Professor Frick with a smile, “Think of it not as an artifact but as a gift to make up for the meeting that we missed with you all those years ago!”
Mr. Fogg was steadfast in his refusal prompting Passepartout to say “May I have it please, if that’s alright with you, master?”
“What an excellent idea!” replied Professor Frack and with that handed it over to the manservant who placed it in the pocket of his jacket and tapped it gently.
“It has been lovely to meet you at last!” smiled Mr. Fogg, “but sadly we have a schedule to keep. I do hope that you find more of these little historical gems and when you complete your expedition, please come to the Reform Club again and I’ll try my best to attend!”
“It’s been a pleasure to meet such a man of history” they both replied in unison and with that looked at each other a little embarrassed. As Mr. Fogg and Passepartout mounted their camels, they expressed their thanks for the warm welcome they had received and with that geed their camels to head back to Suez to spend the night before heading on to Bombay in the morning.
The repairs to the Mongolia had been completed and the captain informed Mr. Fogg that they would sail at a little after ten o’clock that morning and so Passepartout was asked to buy some new shirts for the trip to Bombay. As he wandered around the town, he bumped into a person who seemed to know him very well indeed.
“Why” the man exclaimed, “if it isn’t Mr. Fogg’s manservant, travelling with his master around the world in eighty days, or indeed less. What a pleasure it is to meet you at last. I was rather hoping I would!” and with that the stranger shook Passepartout’s hand quite firmly.
“Thank you” said Passepartout, slightly perplexed and attempted to carry on with his shopping, but the stranger was more intent on other things.
“Enjoying the trip so far then?” the stranger asked
“Yes; but we travel so fast that I seem to be journeying in a dream” the manservant replied to which the stranger laughed.
“Happens to the best of us” he said adding, “Oh, where are my manners? Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Nathaniel Hicks, I’m an agent with the Polar and Oriental company!”
“Jean Passepartout” replied the manservant
Nathaniel smiled at the introduction and then whispered “Actually, between you and me, I’m in a little bit of disgrace at the moment. I’m supposed to be catching the Mongolia to Bombay but, oh dear, this is a little embarrassing, I missed it yesterday and well, you can see why I’m embarrassed about it!”
“But you haven’t, monsieur” Passepartout replied, “It was due to sail yesterday but repairs were needed. It is due to sail this morning!”
“It is? Oh, thank you, thank you sir!” came the reply and with that Nathaniel shook Passepartout’s hand even more firmly asking “When precisely?”
“Ten o’clock, Monsieur, when I will be boarding it as well with my master!” came the reply
“Well then” Nathaniel said, “let me help you with that shopping and then we can board together no? Oh, I will need to find my colleague, he’s a little, well, how shall we say, slow. Meet you back on the Mongolia then?” and before Passepartout had a chance to say “Goodbye” the man had vanished into the crowds. Shrugging his shoulders, Passepartout carried on with his shopping and returned to the Mongolia ready to board and found Mr. Fogg in conversation with someone sporting a military uniform and the topic of conversation appeared to be English politeness.
“No, sir” replied the solider, “I am the one to blame. You go first, sir!”
“Thank you, sir” replied Mr. Fogg, “but you are a member of the finest military in the world. It is you who should board first!”
“With permission” said Passepartout, “why don’t you board at the same time, Monsieurs, I believe the boat is about to leave!”
“I will take advantage of your generosity” replied the soldier, “It is nice to see a gentleman of such politeness in these parts” and with that the soldier boarded, followed by Mr. Fogg and then Passepartout carrying his shopping.
A few moments later, the ship started to make its way out of Suez harbour but as it did, a sound could be heard.
“Hey, stop that ship. I’m supposed to be on it!”
Passepartout looked up and gasped.
“Monsieur Hicks” he said and explained to his master about the meeting he had had. Mr. Fogg chuckled and said “Well, we’d better help him aboard then hadn’t we?” and ordered his man to get him a rope. As Mr. Hicks cried for the boat to stop and his companion tried to attract the captain’s attention, Mr. Fogg quickly wound the rope around his cane then swinging it around his head he shouted “Mr. Hicks and company, catch!” and with that threw the rope to the quayside. Mr. Hicks caught the cane and shouted “Grab hold of me, you nincompoop, otherwise you’ll be left here!”
His companion seemed a little wary but after a loud “Now, Fully!” he grabbed hold of Mr. Hicks and as the ship pulled out, the momentum caused the two men to swing towards the ship. Sadly, however, their speed wasn’t enough and they slammed into the side of the ship and fell into the ocean. Mr. Fogg and Passepartout threw out two lifesaving rings and the two unfortunate passengers climbed onboard, dripping on the deck.
As the ship continued on its way, Passepartout served the two men some hot soup as they sat shivering close to an oil heater, their clothes still dripping onto the deck. He felt so sorry for them that he decided they needed cheering up and so, with his master’s permission sang the song that he had last sung when cleaning Mr. Fogg’s home. As he did, and they sneezed at regular intervals, the other passengers on the ship gathered to listen to the song and just as on Savile Row were soon joining in the song and even Mr. Fogg himself found himself appreciating the show. However, as the scene of revelry played out on deck, nobody noticed a sinister figure in the rigging. As he watched he swore under his breath “You may have escaped me so far, Phileas, but I’ll ensure that you never reach Bombay” and with that chuckled wickedly.
Re: The Dutiful Butler : Jules Verne meets Physical Culture
Posted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 11:52 am
Chapter Seven: In which a game of shuffleboard provokes a friendly wager but ends up being played for very high stakes
To be asked to dine at the Captain’s table is deemed the ultimate accolade of anyone who takes a cruise and is usually reserved for those who have made an impression of themselves. This was the reward of their deeds in allowing Mr. Hicks and his colleague Mr. Fully to board the Mongolia offered to both master and manservant. And as Mr. Fogg explained just how rare and indeed privileged the offer was, Passepartout’s opinion of his master increased once again.
The captain entered the dining room with another guest, the solider who Mr. Fogg had graciously allowed to board earlier in the day who was formally introduced as Brigadier Cromarty, commanding officer of Her Majesty’s garrison at Benares, British India. As he was introduced, the Brigadier stood to attention, saluted the party and announced “At your service, gentlemen!”
Mr. Fogg stood up and returned the salute.
“Are you this Phileas Fogg person I have been hearing so much about?” the Brigadier asked, “Attempting to travel the world in less than eighty days?”
“I am, sir” came the reply
“And that this part of a wager as well?” asked the Brigadier
“That is correct” Mr. Fogg replied
“Completely impossible, of course” said the Brigadier as he sat down at the table, “but I suppose being an adventurer is what makes Britain great, eh, what?”
“Er, quite” replied Mr. Fogg sitting down wondering if he’d had been complimented as an adventurer or dismissed as being quite foolhardy.
The captain, seeking to settle the waters, called for the first course to be served. Mr. Fogg commented that if the aroma was a guide, this meal would be the best they had ever had. And with that the head waiter placed a large tray on the table on which was fried calamari, freshly caught that morning in the waters off Suez with a dressing of octopus ink lightly drizzled onto fresh lettuce leaves. As the diners tucked into the meal, the Brigadier asked if Mr. Fogg would be so kind as to say where his route would take him.
“This boat will take us to Bombay where we transfer to a train to travel across India to Calcutta where we then transfer to another boat in order to get to Hong Kong!” he replied
“Interesting” mused the Brigadier, “and by any chance, do you happen to travel through Benares on this route?”
“We do” replied Mr. Fogg
“In that case, Mr. Fogg” said the Brigadier standing up, “Permission to join your party, at least to Benares where I am rejoining my company!” and with that he saluted again
“Permission granted, Brigadier” smiled Mr. Fogg
“Your daring should be applauded, sir” said the Captain as he explained to the Brigadier that Mr. Fogg’s journey was at the same time as being a wager also had the potential to set a new record for circumnavigation of the globe using commercial transportation “Which all depends on the most precise timing possible” he concluded
“And, well” said Mr. Fogg, “perhaps a tiny bit of luck as well!”
“Then, Mr. Fogg” said the Brigadier, “If there is anything that I or the British Army in India can do to assist, then just say the word. I shall be fully at your service!”
Mr. Fogg’s smile stretched from ear to ear as he replied with a humble “Thank you, Brigadier!”
The following day, after dealing with his master’s duties, Passepartout was given permission to go on deck and take in the views. As he did, he encountered two men sleeping on one of the many benches on the ship and as he gently roused them with a “Good morning, Monsieurs” he was pleasantly surprised to find that they were Mr. Hicks and his colleague.
“Oh, good morning” replied Mr. Hicks, dozily, “Mr, I’m sorry I didn’t quite catch your name yesterday!”
“Passepartout” came the reply and with that he shook Mr. Hicks’ hand and then noticed his colleague who was still fast asleep.
“Oh, yes, sorry about him. He felt a little unwell yesterday and as it was such a pleasant evening I thought that maybe a night under the stars would make him better” replied Mr. Hicks
“Oh, I am sorry to hear that” Passepartout replied, “and may I ask where you are headed after you arrive in Bombay?”
“I was just going to ask you the same question, actually” said Mr. Hicks, smiling
“Calcutta and then Hong Kong” replied Passepartout.
“Goodness” replied Mr. Hicks, “that’s a long way isn’t it?”
“I am following my master” came the reply, “Wherever he goes, I go!”
“By the way, where exactly is your master? I want to thank him for helping us yesterday!” said Mr. Hicks
“Playing whist” came the reply, “with some players he has met on board, then he will be speaking with the captain and then playing a game called shuffleboard. Have you heard of it?”
“Heard of it?” exclaimed Mr. Hicks, “Sir, you are looking at the only person to have won every shuffleboard competition on all the ships in the Polar and Oriental line!”
“Then please” smiled Passepartout, “come and join us in about an hour or so and dazzle us with your skills!”
Just then his colleague moaned “Inspector, I don’t feel well!” to which Mr. Hicks replied, “There, there, Mr. Fully, you take it easy!” and then apologised saying “I’ll try and come if I can, but feel that my colleague needs my attention more than your master!”
Passepartout smiled and with that went to find his master who was not in his room playing whist but was now having a summit conference with the Brigadier and the captain.
“Now, Mr. Fogg” said the Captain, “the route between Suez and Bombay is about three thousand, four hundred miles. Under the terms of the charter that allows this ship to ply that route, the journey must be completed in no less than three hundred and twenty hours”
“A little over thirteen days then” mused Mr. Fogg as he examined the route on the map in the captain’s quarters, “but don’t forget that thanks to those repairs in Suez, we’ve managed to lose sixteen of those hours so therefore you will need to travel at a little more than eleven miles an hour to make up the time!”
“Knots” replied the Captain, “when travelling at sea we use knots instead of miles an hour, sir!”
Mr. Fogg nodded dutifully as the Captain continued, “However, we are already at maximum speed and therefore can’t…”
“CAN’T!” exclaimed the Brigadier, “The word doesn’t exist in the English lexicon, my man. I suggest, nay, command as a representative of Her Majesty, that you go as fast as you can. Use sails and steam if need be!”
“But, Brigadier” said the Captain, “I am under strict company instructions not to burn coal if there is enough wind!”
“Red tape!” growled the Brigadier, “never liked it” and then addressed the Captain, “The honour of England and Her Majesty is at stake here. You, as a subject who has pledged allegiance to that fair monarch, have an obligation, nay, responsibility to ensure that Mr. Fogg here reaches Bombay at the correct time!”
“Coal costs four pounds a ton!” the captain bellowed, “How is Her Majesty going to pay for that?”
“I could” said Mr. Fogg and instantly took the wind out of the captain’s sails, “plus for every hour we gain by using coal as well as sails, I shall pay you five pounds!”
The captain’s eyes opened wide as his mind calculated what was being proposed. Sixteen hours of lost time to make up would earn him eighty pounds which would pay for twenty tons of coal.
“Very well, Mr. Fogg” the captain declared, “You’ve got yourself a deal!” and with that rushed to a speaking tube where he bellowed “Full speed ahead, engine room, you have my permission to use steam as well as sail until we reach Bombay!”
As Mr. Fogg and the Brigadier smiled to each other, Mr. Fogg said “Shuffleboard, Brigadier?”
“I would be delighted!” he replied.
“May I ask what shuffleboard is monsieur?” asked Passepartout as the Brigadier tossed a coin.
“Heads!” the Brigadier called as the coin landed on the deck, “Oh, tails, you win Mr. Fogg!”
“Shuffleboard is an old game often played on ships” replied Mr. Fogg as he picked up yellow disc and placed it behind a white line. “The aim of the game is to try and score as many points as you can by sliding these discs into that scoring area over there. Although, if I am being honest this is the first time I’ve ever played the game!”
“Then” said the Brigadier, “how about a friendly wager eh? A penny a point shall we say?”
As Mr. Fogg and the Brigadier shook hands on the wager, Passepartout wondered if everything in England was governed and determined by wagers. Mr. Fogg took the brush, aimed it and gave the disc a mighty heave and it slid along the deck and stopped in the box marked with a nine.
“Bravo, monsieur” cheered Passepartout, “Neuf”
“Ah” said the Brigadier, “but that’s not the only way of winning a game you know” and with that he picked up a red disc adding “If I can knock Mr. Fogg’s disc out of play, then he will not score any points and I will score wherever my disc lands as it is the score at the end of each round that counts” and with that crouched down to get a better view before standing up and pushed the disc towards the scoring area however the result was not what the Brigadier was aiming for.
“Oh dear” he sighed, “Three”
Mr. Fogg’s next shot however demonstrated precisely what the Brigadier was talking about as it hit the Brigadier’s disc knocking out of play and landed in the box marked five, prompting the Brigadier to turn to Mr. Fogg and ask, slightly accusingly, “I thought that you had never played this game before?”
“I haven’t” came the reply
“Beginner’s Luck!” cursed the Brigadier under his breath.
Half an hour later and although the conditions were getting a little trickier to play in, thanks to the sea washing over the deck a number of times, the Brigadier was determined to recoup some of his losses. He was currently down by some eight pennies and needed a good shot but as he slid his disc, the sea swelled over the deck and washed the disc back.
“Of course” he said, “If that happens I get to take my go again!” and with that placed the disc on the line and shot again scoring a seven. Sadly for the Brigadier, Mr. Fogg scored an eight but that was his last disc of the game and the Brigadier summed it up nicely as he placed his last disc on the line. “A nine or more to win!” he said and with that crouched down to examine the board and then started to chuckle saying “Oh, my dear Mr. Fogg, I’ve got you now!” and with that stood up and started to prepare to take his shot.
“Look out, Brigadier!” shouted Mr. Fogg and ducked as a stray rope came swinging towards the party
“Nine or more!” said the Brigadier concentrating on his shot and played it, just as the rope hit him in the back and propelled him forward. When Mr. Fogg recovered his natural height, he looked around for the Brigadier but couldn’t see him anywhere and came to the only conclusion he could.
“Overboard, is he? Well, we’ll soon fix that problem!” and rushed to the bow of the ship and looked into the ocean, but there was no evidence of anyone having fallen overboard at all.
“Mr. Fogg” called the Brigadier, “You wouldn’t be able to help me would you?”
Mr. Fogg looked up and gasped. There was the Brigadier hanging on for dear life on the bowsprit at the very front of the ship. At once his mind started to formulate a plan and just as he was about to say “We’ll have you back on board in a few moments” an orca whale leapt out of the ocean, missing the Brigadier by inches. This demanded faster action than a standard rescue procedure and so the Englishman started issuing orders.
“I need a rope, Passepartout” he said, “the longer the better!”
“Oui, monsieur” saluted the manservant and ran off to the stores. As he did. Mr. Fogg tried to alleviate the Brigadier’s concerns and despite the military training that he knew he had in spades, as the orca leapt again he could see that the Brigadier was starting to shake like a leaf.
“Here’s the rope, monsieur” panted Passepartout as he returned.
“Excellent” and with that Mr. Fogg tied the rope to the end of his cane and shouted “Catch” to the Brigadier as he threw it. The Brigadier caught it and then, gritting his teeth used his hands to wrap the rope around his waist and then grabbed hold of the bowsprit just as the orca made another attempt to have Brigadier a la fresco. Signaling that he was ready, Mr. Fogg grabbed the rope and said “I hope that you’re feeling strong this morning”.
Passepartout spat on his hands and grabbed the rope nodding and with that both master and manservant pulled on the rope to make it taut.
“Now, Brigadier” shouted Mr. Fogg, “when I reach three I want you to let go of the bowsprit and we’ll haul you in!”
“Ready when you are Mr. Fogg” the Brigadier called and waited
“One, two” called Mr. Fogg and then with his eyes fixed on the Brigadier shouted “THREE!”
The Brigadier let go and keeping the rope as taut as they could, allowed the Brigadier to swing in a perfect circle until he was directly beneath them less than a foot above the waves.
“That’s the first bit done” panted Mr. Fogg, “now to haul him in!”
“QUICKLY, MR. FOGG!” shouted the Brigadier as the orca started to rise to the surface
“HEAVE!” commanded Mr. Fogg and they started to pull the Brigadier up just as the orca jumped causing the Brigadier to scream so loudly that what he screamed was loud to be heard in dispatches, but certainly not mentioned. However, the combined strength of master and manservant pulled him out of reach just in the nick of time and as the orca crashed back into the waves he made a grab for the railings and clambered back on board collapsing onto his back just as the rescuers did as well. As all three of them lay panting on the deck, the Brigadier gasped “Thank you all gentlemen, you are true Englishmen!”
“Francais!” gasped Passepartout as he struggled to his feet still panting but helping the Brigadier to his feet smiled none the less.
As the Brigadier was helped inside to recover from his fright with Mr. Fogg prescribing a hot, steaming bowl of Mulligatawny soup, Passepartout noticed the rope that had propelled the Brigadier overboard. As he picked it up he gasped, the end of it had been cleanly cut and instantly he looked up into the rigging. He couldn’t be certain, but he was convinced he saw someone up in the rigging holding a knife. What has started out as a pleasant cruise through the Red Sea and into the Indian Ocean had now developed in a battle for their lives.