It was an innocent delusion which could harm no one.
The train stopped, at eight o'clock, in the midst of a glade some fifteen miles beyond Rothal, where there were several bungalows, and workmen's cabins. The conductor, passing along the carriages, shouted, "Passengers will get out here!"
Phileas Fogg looked at Sir Francis Cromarty for an explanation; but the general could not tell what meant a halt in the midst of this forest of dates and acacias.
Passepartout, not less surprised, rushed out and speedily returned, crying: "Monsieur, no more railway!"
"What do you mean?" asked Sir Francis.
"I mean to say that the train isn't going on."
The general at once stepped out, while Phileas Fogg calmly followed him, and they proceeded together to the conductor.
"Where are we?" asked Sir Francis.
"At the hamlet of Kholby."
"Do we stop here?"
"Certainly. The railway isn't finished."
"What! not finished?"
"No. There's still a matter of fifty miles to be laid from here to Allahabad, where the line begins again."
"But the papers announced the opening of the railway throughout."
"What would you have, officer? The papers were mistaken."
"Yet you sell tickets from Bombay to Calcutta," retorted Sir Francis, who was growing warm.
"No doubt," replied the conductor; "but the passengers know that they must provide means of transportation for themselves from Kholby to Allahabad."
Sir Francis was furious. Passepartout would willingly have knocked the conductor down, and did not dare to look at his master.
"Sir Francis," said Mr. Fogg quietly, "we will, if you please, look about for some means of conveyance to Allahabad."
"Mr. Fogg, this is a delay greatly to your disadvantage."
"No, Sir Francis; it was foreseen."
"What! You knew that the way--"
"Not at all; but I knew that some obstacle or other would sooner or later arise on my route. Nothing, therefore, is lost. I have two days, which I have already gained, to sacrifice. A steamer leaves Calcutta for Hong Kong at noon, on the 25th. This is the 22nd, and we shall reach Calcutta in time."
There was nothing to say to so confident a response.
It was but too true that the railway came to a termination at this point. The papers were like some watches, which have a way of getting too fast, and had been premature in their announcement of the completion of the line. The greater part of the travellers were aware of this interruption, and, leaving the train, they began to engage such vehicles as the village could provide four-wheeled palkigharis, waggons drawn by zebus, carriages that looked like perambulating pagodas, palanquins, ponies, and what not.
Mr. Fogg and Sir Francis Cromarty, after searching the village from end to end, came back without having found anything.
"I shall go afoot," said Phileas Fogg.
Passepartout, who had now rejoined his master, made a wry grimace, as he thought of his magnificent, but too frail Indian shoes. Happily he too had been looking about him, and, after a moment's hesitation, said, "Monsieur, I think I have found a means of conveyance."
"An elephant! An elephant that belongs to an Indian who lives but a hundred steps from here."
"Let's go and see the elephant," replied Mr. Fogg.
They soon reached a small hut, near which, enclosed within some high palings, was the animal in question. An Indian came out of the hut, and, at their request, conducted them within the enclosure. The elephant, which its owner had reared, not for a beast of burden, but for warlike purposes, was half domesticated. The Indian had begun already, by often irritating him, and feeding him every three months on sugar and butter, to impart to him a ferocity not in his nature, this method being often employed by those who train the Indian elephants for battle. Happily, however, for Mr. Fogg, the animal's instruction in this direction had not gone far, and the elephant still preserved his natural gentleness. Kiouni--this was the name of the beast--could doubtless travel rapidly for a long time, and, in default of any other means of conveyance, Mr.