Summary of Chapter 29: “In which certain incidents are narrated which are only to be met with on American railroads”
The train passes the highest elevation—8092 feet above sea level at Evans Pass and begins descending towards the plains. It has been three days and nights since San Francisco, and Fogg is not behind yet. In Nebraska they reach the Platte River, the origin of the Union Pacific Railroad. Fogg is still playing whist, and “chance” is favoring him (p. 157). Behind Fogg a voice says, “I should play a diamond” (p. 157). It is Colonel Proctor who starts goading Fogg about how to play whist. Aouda tries to hold Fogg back, and Fix tries to get into a fight with Proctor, so Fogg won’t.
Fogg, however, sets a date for them to duel six months in the future, but Proctor wants to fight now. They agree to stop at the next station to have it out. Fix will be his second. Mr. Fogg resumes his whist game. The conductor tells them they will not stop the train, however, because they are late. He suggests they have their fight on the train. The conductor clears the car and Fogg and Proctor stand at either end with their revolvers poised. They will fire when the train whistle blows.
At that moment they hear cries and shots outside the train. They are being attacked by a band of Sioux, who jump on to the moving train. They have guns, and one chief opens a steam valve making the train go at a dangerous speed. The travelers defend themselves, and the cars are “like moving forts” (p.161). The Indians are winning, and the conductor says they must stop the train at the next station, Fort Kearney, where there are soldiers. Passepartout says he will stop the train. He slips underneath the car and using his acrobatic experience, holds on to the chains under the cars until he can detach the engine from the cars. The cars stop right near Fort Kearney, and the Indians leave, but some passengers are missing, including Passepartout.
Commentary on Chapter 29
The action escalates like a western movie with a mixture of comedy and melodrama. As when he rescued the princess in India, Passepartout assumes the heroic role because of his superior acrobatic ability. Everyone now is working for Fogg to help accomplish his mission. The only thing missing from this classic scene is a beautiful girl tied to the railroad tracks, but Aouda fortunately remains inside the train, and it will be Passepartout, as usual, who needs rescuing.