`That's capital! Have you made this trip before?'
`Several times. I am one of the agents of the Peninsula Company.'
`Then you know India?'
`Why - yes,' replied Fix, who spoke cautiously.
`A curious place, this India?'
`Oh, very curious. Mosques, minarets, temples, fakirs, pagodas, tigers, snakes, elephants! I hope you will have ample time to see the sights.'
`I hope so, Monsieur Fix. You see, a man of sound sense ought not to spend his life jumping from a steamer upon a railway train, and from a railway train upon a steamer again, pretending to make the tour of the world in eighty days! No; all these gymnastics, you may be sure, will cease at Bombay.'
`And Mr Fogg is getting on well?' asked Fix, in the most natural tone in the world.
`Quite well, and I too. I eat like a famished ogre; it, the sea air.'
`But I never see your master on deck.'
`Never; he hasn't the least curiosity.'
`Do you know, Mr Passepartout, that this pretended tour in eighty days may conceal some secret errand - perhaps a diplomatic mission?'
`Faith, Monsieur Fix, I assure you I know nothing about it, nor would I give half-a-crown to find out.'
After this meeting, Passepartout and Fix got into the habit of chatting together, the latter making it a point to gain the worthy man's confidence. He frequently offered him a glass of whisky or pale ale in the steamer bar- room, which Passepartout never failed to accept with graceful alacrity, mentally pronouncing Fix the best of good fellows.
Meanwhile the `Mongolia' was pushing forward rapidly; on the 13th, Mocha, surrounded by its ruined walls whereon date-trees were growing, was sighted, and on the mountains beyond were espied vast coffee- fields. Passepartout was ravished to behold this celebrated place, and thought that, with its circular walls and dismantled fort, it looked like an immense coffee cup and saucer. The following night they passed through the Strait of Bab-el-Mandeb, which means in Arabic `The Bridge of Tears', and the next day they put in at Steamer Point, north-west of Aden harbour, to take in coal. This matter of fuelling steamers is a serious one at such distances from the coal mines; it costs the Peninsular Company some eight hundred thousand pounds a year. In these distant seas, coal is worth three or four pounds sterling a ton.
The `Mongolia' had still sixteen hundred and fifty miles to traverse before reaching Bombay, and was obliged to remain four hours at Steamer Point to coal up. But this delay, as it was foreseen, did not affect Phileas Fogg's programme; besides, the `Mongolia', instead of reaching Aden on the morning of the 15th, when she was due, arrived there on the evening of the 14th, a gain of fifteen hours.
Mr Fogg and his servant went ashore at Aden to have the passport again visaed; Fix, unobserved, followed them. The visa procured, Mr Fogg returned on board to resume his former habits; while Passepartout, according to custom, sauntered about among the mixed population of Somalis, Banyans, Parsees, Jews, Arabs and Europeans who comprise the twenty-five thousand inhabitants of Aden. He gazed with wonder upon the fortifications which make this place the Gibraltar of the Indian Ocean, and the vast cisterns where the English engineers were still at work, two thousand years after the engineers of Solomon.
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