Summary of Chapter 28: “In which Passepartout does not succeed in making anybody listen to reason”
The train is now 900 miles from San Francisco, going through mountainous terrain, and Passepartout is impatient. Even Fix wants to get out of the difficult terrain of Wyoming Territory. Aouda recognizes Colonel Stamp Proctor on the train, the one who insulted Mr. Fogg in San Francisco. She is worried for Fogg’s safety and quite attached to Fogg, who seems equally devoted to her welfare. She thinks she feels gratitude to him, but it is more than that. She tells Fix and Passepartout about Stamp, and they decide to keep the two apart. Fix himself would like to fight Stamp for he was the one hit by him.
To distract Fogg, Fix offers to play whist with him. Soon, the company is playing cards, and Aouda surprisingly knows how to play the game because of her English education. They play whist all across the Rocky Mountains and begin to think the journey will be easy. Suddenly the train stops. The engineer and conductor are afraid to cross the shaky suspension bridge at Medicine Bow. The conductor has wired Omaha for another train to come to Medicine Bow, but it will take 6 hours. They cannot cross the rapids on foot, however, to get to Medicine Bow. Colonel Proctor is furious, but Fogg stays in the car and has not yet seen him. Meanwhile, the engineer, a Yankee called Forster, proposes they can make it across the bridge if they go at the highest speed possible. Colonel Proctor urges the engineer to try it. Though Passepartout wants to go ahead, he is astounded at the rashness of the Americans and tries to dissuade them, but he is not heard. Proctor goads him, asking if he is afraid. Passepartout decides he must defend French honor, but he doesn’t understand why they can’t walk across the bridge and let the train come after.
Everyone takes their places, and the train backs up to gain speed, then rushes over the bridge at 100 miles an hour. They do not even see the bridge as they pass over, but it completely falls to pieces behind them.
Commentary on Chapter 28
This is a great comic scene from Passepartout’s French point of view, with the stereotyped Americans looking crazier all the time—hasty and unreasonable. Phileas Fogg is in the background in these chapters as Passepartout once again is the registering intelligence for the travel scenes. Fogg is not the solver of problems here as he usually is, though Passepartout so totally identifies now with his master’s mission that he knows what Fogg would do and think. He himself realizes that Fogg’s money will not help in this crisis. It is very funny to think of the precise Englishman Fogg playing whist on the train, while the brash and foolhardy Americans are jumping the rapids at 100 miles an hour, yet it all serves his purpose, and after all, he does not need to descend from his lofty height to bother with it.