`Ah!' said Mr Fogg, without betraying any astonishment.
Passepartout, who heard what passed, would willingly have embraced the pilot, while Fix would have been glad to twist his neck.
`What is the steamer's name?' asked Mr Fogg.
`Ought she not to have gone yesterday?'
`Yes, sir; but they had to repair one of her boilers, and so her departure was postponed till tomorrow.'
`Thank you,' returned Mr Fogg, descending mathematically to the saloon.
Passepartout clasped the pilot's hand and shook it heartily in his delight, exclaiming, `Pilot, you are the best of good fellows!'
The pilot probably does not know to this day why his responses won him this enthusiastic greeting. He remounted the bridge, and guided the steamer through the flotilla of junks, tankas and fishing boats which crowd the harbour of Hong Kong.
At one o'clock the `Rangoon' was at the quay, and the passengers were going ashore.
Chance had strangely favoured Phileas Fogg, for, had not the `Carnatic' been forced to lie over for repairing her boilers, she would have left on the 6th of November, and the passengers for Japan would have been obliged to await for a week the sailing of the next steamer. Mr Fogg was, it is true, twenty-four hours behind his time; but this could not seriously imperil the remainder of his tour.
The steamer which crossed the Pacific from Yokohama to San Francisco made a direct connexion with that from Hong Kong, and it could not sail until the latter reached Yokohama; and if Mr Fogg was twenty- four hours late on reaching Yokohama, this time would no doubt be easily regained in the voyage of twenty-two days across the Pacific. He found himself, then, about twenty-four hours behindhand, thirty- five days after leaving London.
The `Carnatic' was announced to leave Hong Kong at five the next morning. Mr Fogg had sixteen hours in which to attend to his business there, which was to deposit Aouda safely with her wealthy relative.
On landing, he conducted her to a palanquin, in which they repaired to the Club Hotel. A room was engaged for the young woman, and Mr Fogg, after seeing that she wanted for nothing, set out in search of her cousin Jeejeeh. He instructed Passepartout to remain at the hotel until his return, that Aouda might not be left entirely alone.
Mr Fogg repaired to the Exchange, where, he did not doubt, every one would know so wealthy and considerable a personage as the Parsee merchant. Meeting a broker, he made the inquiry, to learn that Jeejeeh had left China two years before, and, retiring from business with an immense fortune, had taken up his residence in Europe - in Holland, the broker thought, with the merchants of which country he had principally traded. Phileas Fogg returned to the hotel, begged a moment's conversation with Aouda, and, without more ado, apprised her that Jeejeeh was no longer at Hong Kong, but probably in Holland.
Aouda at first said nothing. She passed her hand across her forehead, and refted a few moments. Then, in her sweet, soft voice, she said: `What ought I to do, Mr Fogg?'
`It is very simple,' responded the gentleman. `Go on to Europe.'
`But I cannot intrude--'