Stuart and Flanagan played together, while Phileas Fogg had Fallentin for his partner. As the game proceeded the conversation ceased, excepting between the rubbers, when it revived again.
"I maintain," said Stuart, "that the chances are in favour of the thief, who must be a shrewd fellow."
"Well, but where can he fly to?" asked Ralph. "No country is safe for him."
"Where could he go, then?"
"Oh, I don't know that. The world is big enough."
"It was once," said Phileas Fogg, in a low tone. "Cut, sir," he added, handing the cards to Thomas Flanagan.
The discussion fell during the rubber, after which Stuart took up its thread.
"What do you mean by `once'? Has the world grown smaller?"
"Certainly," returned Ralph. "I agree with Mr. Fogg. The world has grown smaller, since a man can now go round it ten times more quickly than a hundred years ago. And that is why the search for this thief will be more likely to succeed."
"And also why the thief can get away more easily."
"Be so good as to play, Mr. Stuart," said Phileas Fogg.
But the incredulous Stuart was not convinced, and when the hand was finished, said eagerly: "You have a strange way, Ralph, of proving that the world has grown smaller. So, because you can go round it in three months--"
"In eighty days," interrupted Phileas Fogg.
"That is true, gentlemen," added John Sullivan. "Only eighty days, now that the section between Rothal and Allahabad, on the Great Indian Peninsula Railway, has been opened. Here is the estimate made by the Daily Telegraph:
From London to Suez via Mont Cenis and Brindisi, by rail and steamboats ................. 7 days From Suez to Bombay, by steamer .................... 13 " From Bombay to Calcutta, by rail ................... 3 " From Calcutta to Hong Kong, by steamer ............. 13 " From Hong Kong to Yokohama (Japan), by steamer ..... 6 " From Yokohama to San Francisco, by steamer ......... 22 " From San Francisco to New York, by rail ............. 7 " From New York to London, by steamer and rail ........ 9 " ---- Total ............................................ 80 days."
"Yes, in eighty days!" exclaimed Stuart, who in his excitement made a false deal. "But that doesn't take into account bad weather, contrary winds, shipwrecks, railway accidents, and so on."
"All included," returned Phileas Fogg, continuing to play despite the discussion.
"But suppose the Hindoos or Indians pull up the rails," replied Stuart; "suppose they stop the trains, pillage the luggage-vans, and scalp the passengers!"
"All included," calmly retorted Fogg; adding, as he threw down the cards, "Two trumps."
Stuart, whose turn it was to deal, gathered them up, and went on: "You are right, theoretically, Mr. Fogg, but practically--"
"Practically also, Mr. Stuart."
"I'd like to see you do it in eighty days."
"It depends on you. Shall we go?"
"Heaven preserve me! But I would wager four thousand pounds that such a journey, made under these conditions, is impossible."
"Quite possible, on the contrary," returned Mr. Fogg.
"Well, make it, then!"
"The journey round the world in eighty days?"
"I should like nothing better."
"At once. Only I warn you that I shall do it at your expense."
"It's absurd!" cried Stuart, who was beginning to be annoyed at the persistency of his friend. "Come, let's go on with the game."
"Deal over again, then," said Phileas Fogg. "There's a false deal."
Stuart took up the pack with a feverish hand; then suddenly put them down again.
"Well, Mr. Fogg," said he, "it shall be so: I will wager the four thousand on it."
"Calm yourself, my dear Stuart," said Fallentin. "It's only a joke."
"When I say I'll wager," returned Stuart, "I mean it." "All right," said Mr. Fogg; and, turning to the others, he continued: "I have a deposit of twenty thousand at Baring's which I will willingly risk upon it."
"Twenty thousand pounds!" cried Sullivan. "Twenty thousand pounds, which you would lose by a single accidental delay!"
"The unforeseen does not exist," quietly replied Phileas Fogg.