Summary of Chapter Six: “In which Fix, the detective, betrays a very natural impatience”
The fast steamer Mongolia is expected at the Suez Canal with Fogg aboard. Waiting on the docks at Suez are Detective Fix and the British Consul. The Consul brags about the speed and reliability of the Mongolia. She comes from Brindisi with the Indian mails.
The Consul quizzes Fix on how he could possibly know the robber on sight. Fix says that one must have a “scent” (p. 32) for criminals like he does. They discuss the robbery, and the Consul points out the description sounds like an honest man, but the detective is sure he will know the thief.
The Consul says the Mongolia goes from Suez to Bombay without stopping. This leads Fix to assume that the thief would get off at Suez and try to reach Dutch or French territories because Bombay is British, and he could be arrested there. In fact, the warrant, he hopes, will be waiting at Bombay. Fix thinks the robber could also be trying to get to America by going through India, a less watched route.
When the Mongolia anchors, most people disembark, and Fix searches their faces. One man (Passepartout) comes up to him to ask Fix where the British Consul is so the passport of his master can get a visa. Fix sees it is the passport of Fogg, who has remained on the boat. Fix says Fogg must go to the Consul in person.
Commentary on Chapter Six
The switch to Fix’s point of view creates suspense because the reader is aware of this man as Fogg’s adversary, while Passepartout and Fogg do not know who he is. The portrait of Fix is not complimentary. He is a bulldog of a detective, bent on his quarry. The English detective Fix is proud of his connection with Scotland Yard and his ability to recognize a thief by “scent.” He has an instinct for his job, he thinks, but he is shown to be nervous with twitching eyebrows. He may be intelligent, but he is also comically dense, especially about someone of Fogg’s caliber.
The dialogue between the British Consul and the English detective reveal they are both proud public servants. The Consul brags about the steamer’s power and Verne tells details like the weight of the steamer and its 500 horsepower. It is so reliable it is often early and wins prizes for speed. The Consul can testify to scientific ingenuity by daily watching ships that used to have to go around the tip of Africa go through the canal. The details of the steamer and the Suez Canal testify to human power and technological innovation.