off to Liverpool, Glasgow, Havre, Suez, Brindisi, New York, and other ports, inspired by the proffered reward of two thousand pounds, and five per cent on the sum that might be recovered. Detectives were also charged with narrowly watching those who arrived at or left London by rail, and a judicial examination was at once entered upon.
There were real grounds for supposing, as the Daily Telegraph said, that the thief did not belong to a professional band. On the day of the robbery a well-dressed gentleman of polished manners, and with a well-to-do air, had been observed going to and fro in the paying-room, where the crime was committed. A description of him was easily procured and sent to the detectives; and some hopeful spirits, of whom Ralph was one, did not despair of his apprehension. The papers and clubs were full of the affair, and everywhere people were discussing the probabilities of a successful pursuit; and the Reform Club was especially agitated, several of its members being Bank officials.
Ralph would not concede that the work of the detectives was likely to be in vain, for he thought that the prize offered would greatly stimulate their zeal and activity. But Stuart was far from sharing this confidence; and as they placed themselves at the whist-table, they continued to argue the matter. 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 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 viâ Mont Cenis and Brindisi, by rail and steamboats 7 days.
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