Summary of Chapter 31: “In which Fix the detective considerably furthers the interests of Phileas Fogg”
Fogg is twenty hours behind, and Passepartout is desolate for ruining his master. Fix however, determines that Fogg is only 8 hours behind since he was counting the 11 hours they had to wait for the steamer. Fix comes up with the idea of traveling on a sledge with sails over the prairie. This came from a man who had offered to take Fix to Omaha on such a device. The man’s name is Mudge and he is at the station. The sledges are used to go from fort to fort in the winter. Mudge says he can get Fogg to Omaha in a few hours.
The whole company of Fogg, Aouda, Passepartout, Fix, and Mudge embark on the sledge, wrapped against the cold wind. The distance is 200 miles. The sledge goes 40 miles an hour over the flat and frozen prairie. The sledge can go more directly than the railroad. There is still a chance. Passepartout wants to shake Fix’s hand. There is danger, however, because of the wolves that follow them.
They make Omaha in time to jump on a train heading east. On the 10th of December they arrive at Chicago, with still 900 miles to New York. They have no trouble getting trains the rest of the way, and get to New York on the 11th of December, alas, 45 minutes after the steamer leaves for Liverpool!
Commentary on Chapter 31
Fix is now the one who comes up with the solution, but, of course, his motive is to get Fogg back to England since he has the arrest warrant in his pocket. Passepartout feels his bargain about keeping the detective’s secret is justified.
The journey happens primarily by train and steamer, but there are a collection of odd vehicles in this story that make it more interesting—the sledge with sails is one more of these.
The journey to New York is like a chase scene with lots of suspense—the closer to the goal, the more delays. Yet Fogg, his friends, and Fix are now one team working together.