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Chapter 29

  • **IN WHICH CERTAIN INCIDENTS ARE NARRATED WHICH ARE ONLY TO BE MET WITH O_MERICAN RAILROADS**
  • The train pursued its course, that evening, without interruption, passing For_aunders, crossing Cheyne Pass, and reaching Evans Pass. The road her_ttained the highest elevation of the journey, eight thousand and ninety-tw_eet above the level of the sea. The travellers had now only to descend to th_tlantic by limitless plains, levelled by nature. A branch of the "gran_runk" led off southward to Denver, the capital of Colorado. The country roun_bout is rich in gold and silver, and more than fifty thousand inhabitants ar_lready settled there.
  • Thirteen hundred and eighty-two miles had been passed over from San Francisco, in three days and three nights; four days and nights more would probably brin_hem to New York. Phileas Fogg was not as yet behind-hand.
  • During the night Camp Walbach was passed on the left; Lodge Pole Creek ra_arallel with the road, marking the boundary between the territories o_yoming and Colorado. They entered Nebraska at eleven, passed near Sedgwick, and touched at Julesburg, on the southern branch of the Platte River.
  • It was here that the Union Pacific Railroad was inaugurated on the 23rd o_ctober, 1867, by the chief engineer, General Dodge. Two powerful locomotives, carrying nine cars of invited guests, amongst whom was Thomas C. Durant, vice- president of the road, stopped at this point; cheers were given, the Sioux an_awnees performed an imitation Indian battle, fireworks were let off, and th_irst number of the Railway Pioneer was printed by a press brought on th_rain. Thus was celebrated the inauguration of this great railroad, a might_nstrument of progress and civilisation, thrown across the desert, an_estined to link together cities and towns which do not yet exist. The whistl_f the locomotive, more powerful than Amphion's lyre, was about to bid the_ise from American soil.
  • Fort McPherson was left behind at eight in the morning, and three hundred an_ifty-seven miles had yet to be traversed before reaching Omaha. The roa_ollowed the capricious windings of the southern branch of the Platte River, on its left bank. At nine the train stopped at the important town of Nort_latte, built between the two arms of the river, which rejoin each othe_round it and form a single artery, a large tributary, whose waters empty int_he Missouri a little above Omaha.
  • The one hundred and first meridian was passed.
  • Mr. Fogg and his partners had resumed their game; no one—not even the dummy— complained of the length of the trip. Fix had begun by winning severa_uineas, which he seemed likely to lose; but he showed himself a not les_ager whist-player than Mr. Fogg. During the morning, chance distinctl_avoured that gentleman. Trumps and honours were showered upon his hands.
  • Once, having resolved on a bold stroke, he was on the point of playing _pade, when a voice behind him said, "I should play a diamond."
  • Mr. Fogg, Aouda, and Fix raised their heads, and beheld Colonel Proctor.
  • Stamp Proctor and Phileas Fogg recognised each other at once.
  • "Ah! it's you, is it, Englishman?" cried the colonel; "it's you who are goin_o play a spade!"
  • "And who plays it," replied Phileas Fogg coolly, throwing down the ten o_pades.
  • "Well, it pleases me to have it diamonds," replied Colonel Proctor, in a_nsolent tone.
  • He made a movement as if to seize the card which had just been played, adding,
  • "You don't understand anything about whist."
  • "Perhaps I do, as well as another," said Phileas Fogg, rising.
  • "You have only to try, son of John Bull," replied the colonel.
  • Aouda turned pale, and her blood ran cold. She seized Mr. Fogg's arm an_ently pulled him back. Passepartout was ready to pounce upon the American, who was staring insolently at his opponent. But Fix got up, and, going t_olonel Proctor said, "You forget that it is I with whom you have to deal, sir; for it was I whom you not only insulted, but struck!"
  • "Mr. Fix," said Mr. Fogg, "pardon me, but this affair is mine, and mine only.
  • The colonel has again insulted me, by insisting that I should not play _pade, and he shall give me satisfaction for it."
  • "When and where you will," replied the American, "and with whatever weapon yo_hoose."
  • Aouda in vain attempted to retain Mr. Fogg; as vainly did the detectiv_ndeavour to make the quarrel his. Passepartout wished to throw the colone_ut of the window, but a sign from his master checked him. Phileas Fogg lef_he car, and the American followed him upon the platform. "Sir," said Mr. Fog_o his adversary, "I am in a great hurry to get back to Europe, and any dela_hatever will be greatly to my disadvantage."
  • "Well, what's that to me?" replied Colonel Proctor.
  • "Sir," said Mr. Fogg, very politely, "after our meeting at San Francisco, _etermined to return to America and find you as soon as I had completed th_usiness which called me to England."
  • "Really!"
  • "Will you appoint a meeting for six months hence?"
  • "Why not ten years hence?"
  • "I say six months," returned Phileas Fogg; "and I shall be at the place o_eeting promptly."
  • "All this is an evasion," cried Stamp Proctor. "Now or never!"
  • "Very good. You are going to New York?"
  • "No."
  • "To Chicago?"
  • "No."
  • "To Omaha?"
  • "What difference is it to you? Do you know Plum Creek?"
  • "No," replied Mr. Fogg.
  • "It's the next station. The train will be there in an hour, and will sto_here ten minutes. In ten minutes several revolver-shots could be exchanged."
  • "Very well," said Mr. Fogg. "I will stop at Plum Creek."
  • "And I guess you'll stay there too," added the American insolently.
  • "Who knows?" replied Mr. Fogg, returning to the car as coolly as usual. H_egan to reassure Aouda, telling her that blusterers were never to be feared, and begged Fix to be his second at the approaching duel, a request which th_etective could not refuse. Mr. Fogg resumed the interrupted game with perfec_almness.
  • At eleven o'clock the locomotive's whistle announced that they wer_pproaching Plum Creek station. Mr. Fogg rose, and, followed by Fix, went ou_pon the platform. Passepartout accompanied him, carrying a pair of revolvers.
  • Aouda remained in the car, as pale as death.
  • The door of the next car opened, and Colonel Proctor appeared on the platform, attended by a Yankee of his own stamp as his second. But just as th_ombatants were about to step from the train, the conductor hurried up, an_houted, "You can't get off, gentlemen!"
  • "Why not?" asked the colonel.
  • "We are twenty minutes late, and we shall not stop."
  • "But I am going to fight a duel with this gentleman."
  • "I am sorry," said the conductor; "but we shall be off at once. There's th_ell ringing now."
  • The train started.
  • "I'm really very sorry, gentlemen," said the conductor. "Under any othe_ircumstances I should have been happy to oblige you. But, after all, as yo_ave not had time to fight here, why not fight as we go along?"
  • "That wouldn't be convenient, perhaps, for this gentleman," said the colonel, in a jeering tone.
  • "It would be perfectly so," replied Phileas Fogg.
  • "Well, we are really in America," thought Passepartout, "and the conductor i_ gentleman of the first order!"
  • So muttering, he followed his master.
  • The two combatants, their seconds, and the conductor passed through the car_o the rear of the train. The last car was only occupied by a doze_assengers, whom the conductor politely asked if they would not be so kind a_o leave it vacant for a few moments, as two gentlemen had an affair of honou_o settle. The passengers granted the request with alacrity, and straightwa_isappeared on the platform.
  • The car, which was some fifty feet long, was very convenient for thei_urpose. The adversaries might march on each other in the aisle, and fire a_heir ease. Never was duel more easily arranged. Mr. Fogg and Colonel Proctor, each provided with two six-barrelled revolvers, entered the car. The seconds, remaining outside, shut them in. They were to begin firing at the firs_histle of the locomotive. After an interval of two minutes, what remained o_he two gentlemen would be taken from the car.
  • Nothing could be more simple. Indeed, it was all so simple that Fix an_assepartout felt their hearts beating as if they would crack. They wer_istening for the whistle agreed upon, when suddenly savage cries resounded i_he air, accompanied by reports which certainly did not issue from the ca_here the duellists were. The reports continued in front and the whole lengt_f the train. Cries of terror proceeded from the interior of the cars.
  • Colonel Proctor and Mr. Fogg, revolvers in hand, hastily quitted their prison, and rushed forward where the noise was most clamorous. They then perceive_hat the train was attacked by a band of Sioux.
  • This was not the first attempt of these daring Indians, for more than onc_hey had waylaid trains on the road. A hundred of them had, according to thei_abit, jumped upon the steps without stopping the train, with the ease of _lown mounting a horse at full gallop.
  • The Sioux were armed with guns, from which came the reports, to which th_assengers, who were almost all armed, responded by revolver-shots.
  • The Indians had first mounted the engine, and half stunned the engineer an_toker with blows from their muskets. A Sioux chief, wishing to stop th_rain, but not knowing how to work the regulator, had opened wide instead o_losing the steam-valve, and the locomotive was plunging forward with terrifi_elocity.
  • The Sioux had at the same time invaded the cars, skipping like enraged monkey_ver the roofs, thrusting open the doors, and fighting hand to hand with th_assengers. Penetrating the baggage-car, they pillaged it, throwing the trunk_ut of the train. The cries and shots were constant. The travellers defende_hemselves bravely; some of the cars were barricaded, and sustained a siege, like moving forts, carried along at a speed of a hundred miles an hour.
  • Aouda behaved courageously from the first. She defended herself like a tru_eroine with a revolver, which she shot through the broken windows whenever _avage made his appearance. Twenty Sioux had fallen mortally wounded to th_round, and the wheels crushed those who fell upon the rails as if they ha_een worms. Several passengers, shot or stunned, lay on the seats.
  • It was necessary to put an end to the struggle, which had lasted for te_inutes, and which would result in the triumph of the Sioux if the train wa_ot stopped. Fort Kearney station, where there was a garrison, was only tw_iles distant; but, that once passed, the Sioux would be masters of the trai_etween Fort Kearney and the station beyond.
  • The conductor was fighting beside Mr. Fogg, when he was shot and fell. At th_ame moment he cried, "Unless the train is stopped in five minutes, we ar_ost!"
  • "It shall be stopped," said Phileas Fogg, preparing to rush from the car.
  • "Stay, monsieur," cried Passepartout; "I will go."
  • Mr. Fogg had not time to stop the brave fellow, who, opening a doo_nperceived by the Indians, succeeded in slipping under the car; and while th_truggle continued and the balls whizzed across each other over his head, h_ade use of his old acrobatic experience, and with amazing agility worked hi_ay under the cars, holding on to the chains, aiding himself by the brakes an_dges of the sashes, creeping from one car to another with marvellous skill, and thus gaining the forward end of the train.
  • There, suspended by one hand between the baggage-car and the tender, with th_ther he loosened the safety chains; but, owing to the traction, he woul_ever have succeeded in unscrewing the yoking-bar, had not a violen_oncussion jolted this bar out. The train, now detached from the engine, remained a little behind, whilst the locomotive rushed forward with increase_peed.
  • Carried on by the force already acquired, the train still moved for severa_inutes; but the brakes were worked and at last they stopped, less than _undred feet from Kearney station.
  • The soldiers of the fort, attracted by the shots, hurried up; the Sioux ha_ot expected them, and decamped in a body before the train entirely stopped.
  • But when the passengers counted each other on the station platform severa_ere found missing; among others the courageous Frenchman, whose devotion ha_ust saved them.