Summary of Chapter Twenty-One: “In which the master of the Tankadere runs great risk of losing a reward of two hundred pounds”
The journey of 800 miles is risky on the Chinese seas in the current season where strong gales blow. At first, the weather is calm. Fogg urges Bunsby to use all speed as he stands at attention on the deck, with Aouda at his side. Fix is seated in the bow, keeping apart. He believes that Fogg will go as fast as he can to America to escape and has taken this route to throw off the police. Aouda worries about Passepartout who had saved her from death. They hope to be reunited in Yokohama.
By the 8th of November the boat has made 100 miles, carrying all its sail, going at full speed. Fogg and Aouda invite Fix to eat with them, and he has to accept, having no provisions of his own. Fogg says that it all figures into his “general expenses” (p. 110).
After they cross the Tropic of Cancer, the sea is rough and the barometer shows a storm coming. It is a typhoon. All sail is taken in and a storm jib hoisted to hold the wind from behind. Bunsby tells the passengers to go below, but they do not. The storm is violent and lifts the boat on mountainous waves, but the boat’s speed is equal to the waves. The pilot’s skill saves them until the wind shifts the boat sideways in the troughs. Then the pilot tells Fogg they need to make for a port on the coast. He agrees but says it must be Shanghai.
The storm almost does them in, but Aouda does not complain as they cling to the deck. There is no break the next day. That night they must reach Shanghai to catch the steamer, but they have lost time. With forty-five miles to go, they have only six hours. They see the steamer leave Yokohama on time for America and shoot off a cannon to signal it.
Commentary on Chapter 21
Verne’s description of how the boat manages in the storm gives evidence of his sailing experience. The trip on the Tankadere is dangerous, and they almost capsize in a typhoon; still neither Fogg nor Aouda budge from the deck. They are “unaffected by the roughness of the sea” (p. 109). They submit to the waves “philosophically” (p. 111). As before, Fogg accepts the typhoon as “part of his programme” (p. 111). Even with his whole fortune being gambled, Fogg is calm. Verne seems to attribute part of Fogg’s calm resolve to his English character and part to his scientific and philosophic mind. The world is just another whist game to him, though the stakes are high.